SPY SCANDAL: DECISION TO MAKE ARRESTS WAS NOT BARACK OBAMA’S
U.S. authorities disassociate themselves from FBI and deny involvement in the decision-making that resulted in the spy scandal.
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said U.S. President Barack Obama had been informed of the planned arrests but never told when to expect them. The White House and the Department of State disassociated themselves from FBI, indicating that arrests of suspects had been an initiative of law enforcement agencies.
Gibbs told journalists yesterday that Obama had been briefed on the matter several times. He added, however, that the decision to move in and start arresting suspects had been made by law enforcement agencies (FBI and Department of Justice) and not by Obama. The spy scandal would hopefully have little effect on the “reload” of the relations with Russia, he said.
All eleven arrestees were picked up right after Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s departure for Moscow. The U.S. Department of State denounced the assumption that the arrests had been a political gesture. Asked to explain the timing which had been definitely awkward from the standpoint of the American-Russian relations, a spokesman for the Department of State said, “It is the Department of Justice that made the decision. They have been at it for a decade. They decided that the time was ripe.” The spokesman admitted that he did not know whether or not consultations with the U.S. Department of State had been carried out regarding the moment to make arrests. Neither did he know whether Obama’s Administration contemplated making some Russian official in Washington or New York a persona non grata.
Sources within the Department of Justice meanwhile explained that the decision to make arrests was made when it became known that one of the suspects was about to leave the United States. His or her name was not revealed but American media outlets prompted by FBI sources identified her as Anne Chapman, 28. Chapman was reputedly exposed by a government agent who met with her in a Manhattan cafe, introduced himself as a Russian Embassy functionary by name of Roman, and asked Anne to take a forged passport for a “colleague”. Chapman agreed to do this favor and thus gave herself away.