American intelligence officials were so concerned by the poisoning of ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in England earlier this year that they have begun to reassess the danger facing former spies living in the United States, The New York Times reported Thursday.
According to the Times, Moscow's intelligence agencies have tracked down several Russians who secretly served as CIA informants and were resettled in the United States through a secret protective program.
Now, counterintelligence officials have done a wide-reaching review of every former Russian informant currently in the United States, the Times reported, citing an unnamed U.S. official.
The review includes examining security measures to protect the ex-spies — and searching for potential liabilities, including assessing how easy it might be to find the informants through social media, family ties, and other clues, the Times reported.
British authorities earlier this month announced charges against two Russian nationals for the poisoning of the Skripals. The British authorities allege the men worked for the GRU, Russia's military intelligence agency. The men deny involvement.
"The possibility of them doing the same thing here cannot be discounted — especially in light of them interfering in the 2016 election and Skripal," Frank Montoya Jr., a former top FBI counterintelligence official, told the Times.
The Kremlin intensified its efforts to find Russians cooperating with foreign intelligence agencies after relations with the West deteriorated following Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014, the Times noted.
American officials have long believed Russian President Vladimir Putin, a former KGB officer, has a deep scorn for former intelligence agents who aid Western countries, though they doubted he would order an attack on U.S. soil. Now they are considering the possibility, the Times reported.
The Trump administration expelled dozens of Russian diplomats after Britain publicly accused Moscow of being behind the Skripal poisoning. Russia has denied any involvement in the attack.
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