Americans poke fun on social media over alleged spy arrest

By IANS/RIA Novosti,

Washington: Two wigs, a typed spy recruitment letter, a compass and an atlas of Moscow in the days of GPS and smartphones. These are some of the items Russian officials say they found when a US diplomat was caught allegedly attempting to recruit a Russian agent to spy for America’s CIA.

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It sounds like a 1960s’ US television sitcom, some Americans said as social media and online journals lit up with news about the arrest in Moscow of US diplomat Ryan Fogle, who was allegedly caught red-handed.

Many of the comments on social media focused on the wigs that Fogle allegedly had in his possession, including the highlighted blonde headpiece he was wearing under a baseball cap when he was arrested by agents from the Federal Security Service (FSB), the KGB’s successor agency.

“Can we please send our men and women into the field with better wigs?” pleaded Alicia Asher, who goes by the @Grammaticator handle on Twitter.

“He was wearing a wig and carrying lots of money,” tweeted @moorehn, real name Heidi N. Moore.

“Spy recruitment methods have not advanced much since ‘Get Smart’,” Moore added, referring to the 1960s US television show featuring the bungling secret agent Maxwell Smart and his female sidekick, Agent 99, who work for US counterintelligence agency CONTROL and travel the world thwarting attacks by a foreign operatives who work for KAOS.

And @CIAspygirl, a Twitter user who claims to have “spent years in the CIA as a disguise officer and as an operations officer, AKA spy”, wrote: “CIA spy caught in Russia. Embarrassing 2 get caught. More embarrassing 2 get caught with cheesy wigs and spy gear.”

Other bemused Americans commented on the centre-aligned recruitment letter that was allegedly found on Fogle.

The letter starts with “Dear friend” and ends with the anonymous signature, “Your friends”, and in the middle offers whomever Fogle was trying to recruit as a US agent $1 million to work for the CIA.

“This is how the CIA recruits spies? With a form letter that reads like something you’d find in your in-box courtesy of a Nigerian prince?” wrote New York Magazine reporter Dan Amira.

“How did he find the one Russian not willing to take up to $1M?” wondered New York Magazine reader BombTom, whose real identity was difficult to find.

The Russian foreign ministry tweeted that it has “summoned US Ambassador Michael McFaul for a demarche”.

“That sounds delicious,” tweeted @SusanPage, jokingly inferring that she thought a demarche was akin to a meringue or other dessert with a French name.

Hours after the FSB arrested Fogle, the Russians declared him persona non grata and asked that he be deported.

There might not be a need for deportation, said David Clinch, editorial director of social media news agency Storyful, who tweets under the handle @DavidClinchNews.

“Only a matter of time ’til he escapes using his weaponized watch,” Clinch tweeted.