By Elena Teslova
MOSCOW (AA) - Russia requested Interpol to check the information on whereabouts of suspected U.S. spy, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Thursday.
Russian national Oleg Smolenkov, who is suspected of spying within the country's government for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), "disappeared" with his family in 2017 into the "territory of a foreign state," and a criminal case was opened following the incident, she said.
"Two years later, the American media publish a report that this national resides in the territory of the U.S. Of course, this information needs checking in the framework of the existing legal procedures," Zakharova said.
She said questions were asked to the US authorities via the Interpol on the circumstances of Smolenkov's disappearance and his alleged presence in the U.S.
On Monday, CNN presented a report that claimed the U.S. extracted one of their covert sources inside the Russian government in 2017 amid concerns that President Donald Trump "repeatedly mishandled classified intelligence."
According to Zakharova, CNN correspondents did not ask for the comments of the Russian side while preparing the report.
"The whole CNN story is classic propaganda. First, the goal is set, then the information is adjusted to it. What a goal, it is absolutely, there is no doubt, domestic. The U.S. election campaign began. In this case, the channel tried to shoot at the current U.S. president," she said, by adding that Russia pays attention to such reports because they provoke anti-Russian attitude in the U.S. and damage the relation between the two countries.
The CNN news report, based on multiple anonymous Trump administration officials, says the extraction mission took place shortly after Trump met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russia's former U.S. envoy Sergey Kislyak in May 2017.
During those meetings, Trump discussed with the Russian officials classified intelligence regarding Daesh in Syria that had been given to the U.S. by Israel, the report said. This information was refuted by Lavrov, who said no secrets were let out at the meeting with Trump and former US top diplomat Rex Tillerson, which was confirmed by then the National Security Advisor Herbert Raymond McMaster.
A source that CNN said was directly involved in the decision to remove the spy from Russia, said Trump's disclosure renewed concerns that the U.S. informant’s identity could be exposed.
The CIA denied the report as "inaccurate".
"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," agency spokeswoman Brittany Bramell said.