On September 9th, CNN released an exclusive piece claiming that the US extracted a “top spy” from inside Russia in 2017.
The supposed reason was that the top Russian government source was allegedly threatened by President Donald Trump and his administration repeatedly mishandling classified intelligence and could potentially expose the covert source.
Current US Secretary of State and back then CIA Director Mike Pompeo allegedly said that he was concerned about the safety of the source, since too much information was allegedly being leaked.
The report said Trump and “a small number of senior officials” were “informed in advance of the extraction.”
“Details of the extraction itself remain secret and the whereabouts of the asset today are unknown to CNN.”
The White House press secretary, Stephanie Grisham, told CNN its reporting was “not only incorrect, it has the potential to put lives in danger.”
The CIA director of public affairs, Brittany Bramell, said its “narrative that the Central Intelligence Agency makes life-or-death decisions based on anything other than objective analysis and sound collection is simply false. Misguided speculation that the president’s handling of our nation’s most sensitive intelligence – which he has access to each and every day – drove an alleged exfiltration operation is inaccurate.”
NYT now reporting that @jimsciutto‘s core claim — that CIA extracted a Russian source in part due to worries about “Trump’s handling of intelligence — is bunk. Current & former officials blame media leaks — that came from the intel community itself. https://t.co/AFKXbXap41 pic.twitter.com/JVz5XIZbob
— Aaron Maté (@aaronjmate) September 10, 2019
US President Donald Trump also condemned CNN over Twitter, accusing it of spreading fake news.
…But most importantly, @CNN is bad for the USA. Their International Division spews bad information & Fake News all over the globe. This is why foreign leaders are always asking me, “Why does the Media hate the U.S. sooo much?” It is a fraudulent shame, & all comes from the top!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 9, 2019
At the same time, it appeared that the CNN may have provided details of a supposed spy, due to the details provided in the report.
The source’s name, of course, was not disclosed, however, information appeared in Russian sources that they could be talking about Oleg Smolenkov, an employee of the presidential administration, who left with family in Montenegro in June 2017 and disappeared without a trace. Kommersant allegedly found data on where Oleg Smolenkov may now be.
Allegedly the source in the Russian government was extracted shortly after Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov visited the US and spoke to US President Donald Trump and former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. He visited Washington on May 10th, 2017.
Lavrov called the US officials “people of business” who “want to build pragmatic relationships and solve problems.”
A senior source in the Russian Foreign Ministry responded to Kommersant’s request to comment on CNN news:
“It’s hard to comment on the part related to the “very valuable agent”. Let the CIA confirm or deny it. But as for the meeting between Lavrov and Trump, CNN has come up with some very impressive nonsense. Pure paranoia.”
CNN further claimed that it had more information on the informant, but wouldn’t share it due to safety reasons of the individual.
Meanwhile, on the evening of September 9th, the Telegram channel “Ruthless PR” posted information about who could be an informant of the American intelligence services. The channel recalled that on June 14th, 2017, an employee of the presidential administration Oleg Smolenkov with his wife and three children went on vacation to Montenegro and disappeared. This was then reported by Daily Storm. The source of the publication specified that a murder case was instituted on September 6th of the same year.
According to the Daily Storm, Smolenkov during his career in government agencies worked as a secretary at the Russian Embassy in the United States in Washington and in the apparatus of the Russian government. In 2010, by decree of President Dmitry Medvedev, Oleg Smolenkov was assigned the rank of Acting State Advisor to the Russian Federation of the 3rd class (corresponds to the military rank of Major General).
According to Kommersant’s sources in the Russian government, a criminal case regarding the murder of Oleg Smolenkov and members of his family was instituted by one of the Investigative Committee of Russia directorates in Moscow after a corresponding preliminary investigation.
The investigation stopped and resumed several times. But in the end, investigators and FSB officers found that the alleged victims were alive and in another country.
Kommersant managed to find data on where Oleg Smolenkov and his family can now be.
The Washington Post website contains information on the sale of real estate on June 5th, 2018, in the Stafford (Virginia) city, worth about $925,000, by certain Oleg and Antonina Smolenkovs. Smolenkov’s wife is actually named Antonina.
The network also has data on the registration of a property management contract in the name of Oleg and Antonina Smolenkov, drawn up on January 28th, 2019.
Kommersant’s unnamed sources in the Russian intelligence circles and government give varying claims regarding what sensitive information Smolenkov could potentially provide.
The Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said the following:
“Indeed, Smolenkov worked in the presidential administration, but several years ago he was dismissed by internal order; his position did not belong to the category of senior officials. All these discussions in the American media about who urgently exported whom, from whom they saved, and so on – this, you know, is a genre of fiction, or rather “pulp fiction”, so let’s leave it up to them.”
Sources of Kommersant say that before leaving in 2017, Oleg Smolenkov worked at the Office of Foreign Affairs of the Presidential Administration.
An anonymous Kommersant source in US government agencies confirmed that in the case of the CNN report, it was Oleg Smolenkov that was specifically meant.
Whether any of this is true comes down to speculation, but it stands to show that if it really is, in fact, Oleg Smolenkov. CNN was so desperate to spin Russiagate propaganda that it would even potentially endanger the lives of ‘US spies’ in Russia.
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