Russia expels US diplomat over 'Cold War' spying antics

Photograph purporting to show Ryan Fogle's ID card Credit: RTV

Russia has expelled an American diplomat who it accuses of secretly attempting to recruit Russians to work for the CIA.

Ryan Fogle worked as third secretary to the American embassy in Moscow but will now be sent back home to the US after allegedly being caught in the act.

In scenes that even Russia's foreign ministry described as being more suited to the Cold War, Mr Fogle was disguised in a wig and carrying a wad of cash when he was detained.

ITV News' Washington Correspondent Robert Moore reports:

Russia's Federal Security Service said Fogle had been detained overnight carrying "special technical equipment", a disguise, and a large sum of money in cash.

Russian television showed grainy footage of a man identified as Fogle being arrested and pinned to the ground.

A report on the state-run TV channel Russia Today included photographs that appeared to show two wigs, several pairs of dark sunglasses, a knife and compass among other his possessions.

The Russian Foreign Ministry summoned US Ambassador Michael McFaul to discuss the case and released a statement ordering Fogle to leave Russia:

There has been no official response from the US, and the country's Ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul, refused to comment on the matter in Twitter question-and-answer session.

The Russia Today report also included a photograph of a letter, allegedly carried by Mr Fogle, which appear to contain instructions for would be recruits.

An excerpt on the website reads:

It goes on to describe how the recipient should open a Gmail account at an Internet cafe, instructing the recipient to expect an email response in "exactly one week".

Photo purporting to show Ryan Fogle being handcuffed by Russian police Credit: RTV

The announcement still came at an awkward time for Washington and Moscow as theywork on improving relations. They are also at odds over how to react to the war in Syria.

But there was little sign that either country wanted to escalate the affair beyond a minimum response, with one US State Department official advising not to "read too much into one incident".

The last significant spy scandal between the two countries was in 2010 when 10 Russian agents were arrested in the US and later exchanged for four Russians imprisoned on charges of spying for the West.