Alleged Russian Spy Saga Fuels Intrigue
MELISSA BLOCK, Host:
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.
MICHELE NORRIS, Host:
NPR's Dina Temple-Raston reports.
DINA TEMPLE: So imagine the reaction of her colleagues when they found out that she and her husband were arrested this week as Russian agents.
GERSON BORRERO: Shocked, surprised, incredulous. I just felt that there's got to be something wrong here.
TEMPLE: That's Gerson Borrero, her former editor at El Diario La Prensa and a columnist at the paper.
BORRERO: I thought it was a joke. I started - quite frankly, there was a reaction, a part of me started at some point laughing. She's just like any other journalist. She happens to be writing in Spanish but nothing out of the norm, nothing that would indicate to me that she was a part of this.
TEMPLE: If all this sounds like outdate tradecraft, there's a reason. Kimberly Marten, a Russian intelligence expert at Barnard College, says that Vicki Palaez and her husband were holdover spies from a bygone era.
KIMBERLY MARTEN: Bureaucracies have a tendency to replicate themselves, and I would guess based on what we know that this was not a very high-level operation. It was probably something that the Russian state had essentially forgotten about, and so that meant that it would just cook along on its normal path until somebody decided to stop it.
TEMPLE: The FBI apparently did put a stop to it. It charged the people in the case with money laundering and failing to register as agents of a foreign government, not espionage because according to Marten they clearly weren't very effective.
MARTEN: For all of the money and all of the time that they put into this, they really didn't get close to getting access to any classified information.
TEMPLE: Dina Temple-Raston, NPR News, New York.