RUBBLE O-SEVEN; EXCLUSIVE THE MOSCOW SPY SCANDAL Did Diplomats at Our Embassy Use This Fake Rock to Unearth Secrets of the Kremlin?

The Mirror (London, England), January 24, 2006 | Go to article overview

RUBBLE O-SEVEN; EXCLUSIVE THE MOSCOW SPY SCANDAL Did Diplomats at Our Embassy Use This Fake Rock to Unearth Secrets of the Kremlin?


Byline: By CHRIS HUGHES, Security Correspondent and WILL STEWART in Moscow

BRITAIN was last night locked in a bizarre James Bond-style scandal after our diplomats in Moscow were accused of secretly contacting spies - using a fake rock.

A Russian state TV station claimed MI6 disguised a hi-tech transmitter to look like a rock and placed it in a park on the outskirts of the city.

Agents allegedly recruited by Britain would send top secret information to the stone's transmitter.

British secret service men then visited it and furtively downloaded the data onto palm-top computers, it was claimed.

Russian TV last night named the four diplomats it claimed were involved in the scandal amid speculation they could be kicked out of the country.

They were said to be the head of MI6 in Moscow, another agent, a man officially listed as an embassy archivist, and a fourth man named as a second secretary.

The Mirror has agreed to abide by a Government D Notice not to name them.

The state TV station Rossiya showed extraordinary footage it says was shot on hidden cameras.

It showed a string of men alleged to be the British diplomats walking up to the fake rock with hand-held computers.

The programme included interviews with men said to be officers in the Russian intelligence service FSB - the successors to the feared KGB.

They claimed the data passed to the British came from various radical groups opposed to President Putin's regime.

The FSB's Colonel Sergei Ignatchenko said of the British: "We caught them red-handed while they were in contact with their agents."

Another FSB man told how they discovered the fake rock. He said: "At first we thought it was just a hiding place, a kind of container which was made to look like a rock.

"Later when our specialists checked the object we discovered it contained sophisticated electronic devices."

The man claimed the FSB secretly Xrayed the fake rock and found it stuffed with electronic devices, long-life batteries, a transmitter and a receiver.

The programme showed film of a man approaching the rock holding a hand-held computer. A voice-over explained what was going on. It said: "Here we see how he comes close to the rock, holding the device in his hands. You can see how he tries to retrieve information.

"It looks like something goes wrong with the process because first he walks to one side and then he changes direction and walks to another side. Then he goes closer to the trees as if pretending that he wants to relieve himself."

The footage then showed a man zipping up his flies as the voice said: "By using these false movements he comes close to the rock and kicks it."

The officer said it was thought he did this as the rock was not transmitting because of a technical problem.

At one point a man carrying a studentstyle rucksack is seen picking up the rock and carrying it off. …

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RUBBLE O-SEVEN; EXCLUSIVE THE MOSCOW SPY SCANDAL Did Diplomats at Our Embassy Use This Fake Rock to Unearth Secrets of the Kremlin?
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