Sunday 18 March 2018

Irish passport linked to Russian sleeper spy


A to Russia With Love fake Irish passport used by an attractive blonde Russian female spy has turned up as part of the FBI investigation into the sleeper spy operation in the US.

The Irish passport was copied from a female member of the To Russia With Love charity, which helps Russian orphans. It is believed the passport details were noted when the woman visited Moscow.

The charity's manager, Debbie Deegan, declined to comment on the issue yesterday, but gardai have been asked to investigate how one of their volunteers had her passport details stolen and a counterfeit passport used in the US by one of the Russian Federal Security Bureau spies.

The same stolen identity is believed to have been used by a key female Russian agent involved in spying operations in Britain and the EU.

The garda investigation is understood to have discovered that the Russian spy agency also hacked into the charity's computers to gain details on staff members.

The Department of Foreign Affairs said it "does not comment on individual cases", adding: "The gardai and the Passport Office have undertaken an investigation into the alleged use of a fraudulent Irish passport. This investigation is under way and we do not wish to speculate on its findings."

However, it is understood that an extensive investigation is under way into Russia's use of Irish passports as part of its international spying operations.

Staff at the charity have been questioned about their trips to Russia. None was aware that they were the subject of a Russian spy operation.

The To Russia With Love passport may have been used by a glamorous agent -- calling herself Cynthia Murphy -- who lived a normal suburban life in America as part of an 'Irish-American' couple.

Richard and Cynthia Murphy had been living in American since 1998 and have two young children. They lived in the suburb of Monclair in New Jersey and 'Richard Murphy' also had a fake US identity.

It appears that 'Richard' did relatively little spying and his function was to work to provide a living for the couple and their two daughters.

'Cynthia', however, was regarded as a far more important agent -- and she had developed contacts with key political fundraisers in New York.

She worked for a financial planning company that had contacts with people who had raised finance for election campaigns, including that of Hillary Clinton.

These latest revelations come on top of Israeli spy agency Mossad's use of Irish passports by assassins of senior Hamas figure Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai last February.

A member of the diplomatic accredited staff in the Israeli embassy here was made to leave Ireland as a result of the investigation into Mossad's use of Irish passports.

Gardai believe that Israel and Russia are not the only countries to have utilised stolen Irish passports and that al-Qaeda, and possibly other terrorist groups, are also using them.

Ireland's neutrality makes our passports highly desirable for international undercover operations.

Sunday Independent

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