According to an affidavit filed by the FBI, Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) may have inadvertently provided one of the clues that helped U.S. counterintelligence agents track down accused CIA spy Harold Nicholson. Ironically, the relevant exchange between the two intelligence services could not have happened prior to the end of the Cold War and the beginning of U.S.-Russian cooperation efforts. The tip-off apparently started in mid-March of this year, when the SVR officially contacted the FBI for information on Chechen terrorism. Despite having no need for such information in his own work, Nicholson asked CIA headquarters for background on Chechnya at the end of April, and then in July began using his computer to search CIA databases for information keyed to the words "Chechnya" and "Russia." Those activities reportedly brought Nicholson to the attention of CIA security officers. When FBI agents searched Nicholson’s computer in August, they found a copy of a secret CIA report on Chechnya. The FBI apparently believes that different departments of the SVR may have failed to coordinate their activities, and that Nicholson might been tasked with procuring the information on Chechnya despite the parallel request for information on Chechen terrorism from the FBI. (AP, November 20)
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