Fidest – Agenzia giornalistica/press agency

Quotidiano di informazione – Anno 35 n°195

The Extraordinary Story: The bureau for hiding defectors

Posted by fidest press agency su lunedì, 27 marzo 2023

On a September morning in 2019, a horde of journalists stampeded into a tranquil suburb in Virginia and parked their TV trucks on the edge of a vast green lawn. Only days earlier, the six-bedroom home had been occupied by Oleg Smolenkov, a former Russian diplomat, and his family. Now it was empty. The CIA had smuggled the family out of Russia in June 2017, a reward for the years Smolenkov spent spying for the agency as an aide to Vladimir Putin’s foreign-policy adviser. Much of the evidence about Putin’s secret campaign to sway the 2016 presidential election in Donald Trump’s favour is thought to have come from Smolenkov, although the American government has not acknowledged this. Five months after Trump took office, the baby-faced Smolenkov flew with his wife and three children to Porto Montenegro, a resort on the Adriatic Sea favoured by wealthy Russians. The Russian government had banned employees from travelling to Montenegro owing to friction between the two countries, but the Smolenkovs weren’t planning to stay long. The CIA quickly spirited them away to America. Once they landed, the Smolenkovs were greeted by officers from the National Resettlement Operations Centre (NROC), the CIA’s little-known programme for foreign agents who defect to America. (Abstract by The Economist)


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