Soviets Expel U.S. Envoy, Say He Was Caught Spying
The Soviet Union today said U.S. diplomat Paul Stombaugh had been caught spying and expelled from the country, aborting “a major espionage action” by the United States.
Tass press agency said Stombaugh was detained in Moscow on Thursday “in the act of conducting an espionage action. A major espionage action by United States special services against the Soviet Union was cut short.”
“Materials fully exposing this staff member of the United States Embassy in engaging in espionage activity incompatible with his official status were obtained in the course of the investigation,” the agency said.
It said that, “for his unlawful actions, Paul Stombaugh was declared persona non grata and is being expelled from the Soviet Union.”
Tass attributed its report to the KGB.
No U.S. Confirmation
A U.S. Embassy official said he could not confirm the report and said it was the first he had heard that Stombaugh, who works in the embassy’s political section, was ordered to leave the Soviet Union.
The embassy does not comment on alleged espionage charges as a matter of policy.
Stombaugh would be the first U.S. diplomat expelled since David Augustenborg, who worked at the consulate in Leningrad, and his wife were accused of spying and told to leave the country in 1983.
Augustenborg was ordered out of the Soviet Union on Sept. 12, 1983, after he and his wife, Denise, were detained outside Leningrad and accused of trying to collect what newspaper reports called a “spy container.”
Augustenborg was the third diplomat expelled in 1983. On March 7, economic attache Richard Osborne was detained in a Moscow park after he was caught “red handed” trying to make a radio transmission, Soviet news reports said at the time.
On June 2, 1983, Louis Thomas, a civilian working in the embassy security division, was detained during what the Soviets called “a prearranged conspiracy meeting with an agent.”
Another U.S. diplomat, economics officer Bruce Rosenberg, was “compelled” to leave the Soviet Union in June, 1984, after being accused of speculating in Western goods and distributing anti-Soviet material, Soviet reports said.