Former Russian Intelligence Service Colonel Alexander Poteyev, who fled to the U.S. and was convicted in absentia by a Russian court to 25 years in prison for state treason, has died in America. The Interfax news agency obtained this information on July 7, 2016.
"According to certain information, Poteyev died in the U.S,” the Interfax report says. “At the moment the information is being verified."
The reason and circumstances of his death are unclear. Another source confirmed having received the information from abroad but said that, "this might be disinformation intended to have Russia forget about the traitor."
Poteyev, the former deputy head of the Direction S department, which carries out reconnaissance for Russia in America, made headlines in the summer of 2010 after a spy scandal erupted in the U.S. Ten Russians spying for Russia in the U.S. were sent home in exchange for four Russians spying for the U.S. in Russia. The FBI uncovered a conspiratorial group of "sleeper agents" that gathered information on U.S. foreign policy and on Americans' perception of Russia's foreign policy.
Poteyev was the individual to hand this network over to the U.S. Russia's counterintelligence was unable to recover him in time. It failed to notice that just before defecting the colonel's son left for the U.S., where Poteyev's wife and daughter were already living.
The Russian authorities admitted that their spies in the U.S. had failed. President Vladimir Putin immediately met with them and promised to find them good jobs. The most sensational representative of the spy group, Anna Kushchenko, who had taken the surname Chapman from her former British husband, got the best deal of all.
Anna Chapman. Source: AP
She soon became an advisor to the president of Fondservisbank, did a photo shoot for Maxim magazine and joined the council of the youth wing of the United Russia political party. Currently, Chapman hosts a television show. Gazeta.ru was unable to reach her for comment.
In June 2011, a year after the espionage scandal, the Moscow District Court convicted Poteyev for state treason and desertion and sentenced him to 25 years in jail, in addition to depriving him of his honors and medals. Since he was no longer present in Russia, the closed hearing was held in absentia and presided over by three judges. The files used in court were marked "confidential."
Russia's Foreign Intelligence Service refused to comment on Poteyev's death. Russian Presidential Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov stated that this issue does not fall within the Kremlin's jurisdiction. However, back in 2010, Putin predicted an unhappy ending for Poteyev.
"Traitors always finish badly,” Putin said. “They usually end up on the streets from booze or drugs."
During the investigation of Poteyev's case the U.S. Embassy refused to give the Russian side information about the former intelligence colonel's whereabouts. Gazeta.ru was also unable to obtain comments from American diplomats concerning Poteyev’s death.
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