How do former American spies live?

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How do former American spies live?

CNN television and the New York Times reported on Monday that a former Kremlin employee who had worked as a CIA agent in Moscow for two years had retired from the Russian capital two years ago. It is not yet clear, however, why he was pulled over: for fear of Trump's treatment of classified information or for fear of being disclosed. Later, it turned out that all indications point to Oleg Smolenkov, who worked for President Putin's foreign policy adviser, Deutsche Welle reports.

If Smolenkov was indeed a CIA agent, then he later did not live in some great secrecy in the US. “The lives were withdrawn,” 63-year-old Greg Talley, whose home is located across the street from the Smolenk's, quotes New York Times. It seems that Smolenkov and his wife were buying real estate using their real names. But, at one point, media interest became a problem for them: neighbors said that Smolenkov had to leave the house quickly with his wife when the door bell began to ring.

Washington International Museum of Espionage Director Chris Costa followed the story closely. Costa is also a former agent with 30 years of experience. He has recently held a leading position on the National Security Council and was hired as Special Advisor to Donald Trump.

“Murder Protection”

Costa says some details from Smolenkov's story are unclear. “I have no first-hand information, but I have experience in such matters,” Costa said in an interview with DW. He is surprised that the alleged CIA agent bought the house so openly. “The US government would do its best to protect agents from murder or something.”

When the first reporters arrived at Smolenk's house, they were approached by unknown men in the SUV, who introduced themselves as friends of the homeowner. Could the house be a trap for potential paid killers? “That's highly unlikely,” says Costa: “That would be extremely atypical.” And in general, Costa is skeptical of the truth of the story of the alleged top Kremlin spy. And Mike Pompeo said most of the allegations in the reports he read were incorrect. “I think it's interesting, but not to know the whole story.”

How safe can a CIA agent be in Moscow after being discovered and withdrawn to the US? Has Moscow ever tried to kill someone on US territory who is considered a “traitor” in the Kremlin? “Good question,” Costa says, responding that former KGB general Oleg Kalugin, who emigrated to the United States and Russia condemned him in absentia, told him that “neither the Soviet nor Russian secret services have ever tried it in the United States.” “. Agents from Russia, he concludes, may feel safe in the US.

No other state, Costa tells us according to what he has heard from Kalugin, can be considered safe. Even in the UK last year, Russian-British double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter were attacked. This, of course, Costa points out, does not mean that the Russians would not be able to try it in the US in the future, DW reports.

Life after

What do agents do after being withdrawn from Russia? The museum director in Washington says his usual “career” seems simple: “You move to the US or the UK and then you can continue to advise intelligence agencies.”

How often does the discovered agent get a new name or identity? Costa avoids answering this question. “I cannot say how many people have been given new names and identities, but I have known those who have led relatively normal lives, just not under a real name.”

Does luxury also belong to the relatively normal life Costa is talking about? “That cannot be said,” he says, saying that he had organized a meeting with former agents several years ago at home. “In my eyes, it's not a life of luxury and glamor.” Of course, most former agents, he explains, live better in the United States today because many have fled totalitarian governments. But new life always puts them ahead of new challenges, which is hard and difficult, he says.

Sentenced to death

There are not only ups and downs. The typical story for Costa is that of Kim Philby, who was a senior British intelligence official who worked for Moscow in the mid-20th century and later fled to the Soviet Union, where he lived very lonely until the end. “His life, which we also thematize in our museum, had the usual 'slumber': he drank a lot and never felt accepted.”

Oleg Penkovsky's story is even worse. “He was an officer in the Soviet military secret service and also a spy on John F. Kennedy.” Penkovsky's dispatches came directly to the table of the US president. “It allowed the US to make the right decisions in the Cuban crisis,” Costa explains. “In an ideal world, Penkovsky would have noticed that he was being monitored by Russian counterintelligence. But he did not notice.” In 1963, although admitted, Colonel Penkovski was sentenced to death.

How do former American spies live?

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