- The Washington Times - Friday, August 3, 2018

The Secret Service said Friday that it had conducted a review and determined a Russian national formerly employed at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow did not have access to classified information to leak to the Russian government.

Officials were pushing back on a report in The Guardian, a British newspaper, that the woman had access to “secret data” during a decade working at the embassy for the Secret Service. The newspaper said she had contacts with Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), and speculated that she had turned over that information.

“To this date, the U.S. Secret Service has not been notified or provided any information to indicate a transfer of sensitive or classified information was disclosed to foreign nationals outside of disclosures made as part of official U.S. Secret Service business. The employee at no time had access to any classified information,” the Secret Service said.

The Guardian’s report sparked worries in Washington.

Rep. Bennie G. Thompson of Mississippi, the top Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee, demanded a review.

“Not only does this expose the lengths that Russia is willing to go to interfere in our affairs, but it also raises questions as to whether the government acted as swiftly as possible in removing her,” Mr. Thompson said.

He cited The Guardian’s reporting that the Secret Service took months to act on a red flag raised by the State Department about the woman, and said the Russian appears to have access to “confidential files” such as schedules of the president and his family.

The Secret Service countered in a series of statements that it was advised of concerns about the woman in the middle of last year, and her access to the Secret Service office “was promptly discontinued.”

Officials said it was part of the woman’s job to have contacts with the Russian government, including the FSB, because her role involved being a liaison between the governments, serving as a translator and helping with “cultural guidance.”

The Secret Service didn’t disclose the nature of the red flags and did not say why the woman was terminated if contacts with the FSB were to be expected.

It did say, however, that it routinely expects foreign governments to try to exploit their people working in U.S. embassies, and they take precautions.

“In Russia we explicitly expect FSNs to be subject to the influence or control of Russian Intelligence Services. As such, all FSNs are managed accordingly to ensure that U.S. Secret Service and United States Government (USG) interests are protected at all times. As a result, the duties are limited to translation, interpretation, cultural guidance, liaison and administrative support,” the service said.

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