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Kremlin On The Charles? Alleged Spies In Cambridge15:25
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(Chase Gregory for WBUR)
(Chase Gregory for WBUR)

The news of alleged Russian spies haunting Harvard Square reminds us of the great Richard Burton, in the 1965 movie version of John Le Carre's novel, "The Spy Who Came in from the Cold."

Donald Howard Heathfield and Tracey Lee Ann Foley, of Cambridge, are two of 11 people charged with "infiltrating American society" for Russia while allegedly on deep-cover assignments to spy on U.S. policymakers.

Heathfield and Foley have not been charged with espionage but with "conspiracy to act as an agent of a foreign government without notifying the U.S. attorney general."

In fact, the federal complaint does not accuse the couple of stealing secret plans for nuclear warheads but of collecting intel about U.S. policy objectives — information that would seem to be a Google search away.

"It's bizarre," said Marshall Goldman, a senior scholar at Harvard University's Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies.

"It's hard for me to determine what in the world they could be getting that they couldn't pick up by reading the New York Times or the Washington Post."

And the timing of the case raises more questions, Goldman said, given the high-profile "reset" of U.S.-Russian relations.

Presidents Obama and Dimitry Medvedev met last week at the White House after visiting high-tech firms in Silicon Valley, and both attended the G-8 and G-20 meetings over the weekend in Canada.

"If you have a Cold War mentality, like I have, it makes you say, My goodness, who's trying to sabotage what?" Goldman said.

A detention hearing for Heathfield and Foley is set for Thursday in Boston federal court.

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Guests:

  • Marshall Goldman, senior scholar, Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, Harvard University
  • Craig Sandler, State House News Service, classmate of accused spy, Donald Howard Heathfield

This program aired on June 29, 2010.

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