Russia claims capture of CIA agent

May 14, 2013

Russia expels U.S. diplomat for allegedly attempting to recruit spy, deadline approaches on Bangladesh factory safety plan, and Obama weighs in on Britain’s EU membership. Today is Tuesday, May 14, and this is the World Wrap, brought to you by @dwbronner and @clarerrrr.

A man named as Ryan Fogle by the Russian Federal Security Service, lies on the ground during his detention in this undated handout photo released by the Press service of the Russian Federal Security Service May 14, 2013. Press service of Russian Federal Security Service/Handout via Reuters

Cold War throwback. Russia claimed to have caught an American agent employed by the U.S. Embassy allegedly attempting to recruit a Russian intelligence officer to the CIA. Russia’s accusation comes days after Secretary of State John Kerry visited Moscow and the two countries agreed to work together toward a solution in Syria:

Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) said Ryan Fogle, a third secretary at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, had been detained overnight carrying “special technical equipment”, a disguise, a large sum of money and instructions for recruiting his target. The Foreign Ministry summoned U.S. Ambassador Michael McFaul to discuss the case on Wednesday and released a statement demanding Fogle leave Russia without delay. “Such provocative actions in the spirit of the Cold War will by no means promote the strengthening of mutual trust,” it said.

Russia Today tweeted an English translation of the letter Fogle allegedly used to attempt to recruit the Russian operative as well as other photos purporting to show evidence. Russia’s foreign ministry ordered Fogle’s expulsion and U.S. Embassy officials have not commented on the story.

Retailers split over Bangladesh safety accords as death toll tops 1,100. Major U.S. clothing retailers refused to endorse a Bangladesh building and fire safety accord supported by Europe’s two largest clothing chains, due to be decided by May 15, after a deadly building collapse last month:

Major brands and retailers set a May 15 deadline to join the agreement after talks in Germany last month. As of Tuesday morning, the only U.S. company to announce it had signed on was PVH, which owns brands including Calvin Klein. Europe accounts for about 60 percent of Bangladesh’s clothing exports, so even without participation from the big U.S. retailers, the agreement may bring some change in a country that has seen at least three deadly garment factory disasters in the span of six months.

Gap wanted a change in the way disputes are resolved in court before backing the agreement. Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, conducted its own inspections in Bangladesh and ordered one factory shut and another examined on Monday, after finding safety standards lacking. They did not say whether they will sign the accord. The details of the agreement will not be announced until Wednesday, but will likely include a financial commitment to improving workers’ rights and training. Bangladesh’s cabinet approved new labor laws on Monday that will allow workers to unionize without approval from factory owners. Workers earn a minimum wage of $38 a month, an 80 percent increase implemented after months of protests in 2010.

Cameron cornered on “Brexit.” President Obama encouraged British Prime Minister David Cameron to attempt to repair the UK’s relationship with the EU before voting on whether to leave the union. British Conservatives will release a draft bill that could force Cameron’s hand on the question of whether the UK will exit the European Union:

In a political gamble aimed at shoring up Cameron’s leadership, the bill would pave the way for an in-out vote by the end of 2017 that will decide Britain’s geopolitical and economic destiny for decades ahead. However, the Conservatives are part of a two-party coalition and do not have a parliamentary majority, so the bill’s chances of success aren’t guaranteed. Rebels from other parties would need to support it too for it to become law.

The British PM promised to hold a membership referendum if he is re-elected in 2015, but his hopes of mollifying a growing independence movement are fading.

Nota Bene: As the death toll in Syria hits as high as 120,000, global leaders warn that peace talks may already be doomed.


Rickety relations with Russia – Reuters columnist Nina Khrushcheva discusses how the legacy of the Cold War shapes global counterterrorism efforts. (Reuters)

Pirate bookie – Germany accuses a man of serving as an accountant for Somali pirates. (The New York Times)

Parliamentary pigs – Protesters release pigs and piglets in Nairobi to show how they feel about their elected officials’ demand for raises. (BBC)

Wartime sex slaves – The mayor of Osaka defended Japan’s WWII practice of forcing women to become sex workers to “maintain discipline.” (The Associated Press)

Swept Away – HRW reports torture and beatings are among the crimes committed against China’s sex workers. (Human Rights Watch)

From the File:

  • Rohingya Muslims drown off Myanmar trying to flee storm
  • At least 33 missing after tunnel collapse at Freeport Indonesia mine
  • Bahrain blogger escapes to Britain.
  • Australia delays promised budget surplus as election looms
  • First Kurdish rebels arrive in Iraq under Turkey peace plan
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