Soviets Charge U.S. Diplomat With Espionage, Order His Ouster
The Soviet Union on Friday ordered the expulsion of U.S. diplomat Paul M. Stombaugh, charging he had been caught taking part in “a major espionage action” of the United States.
The official Tass news agency said Stombaugh had been caught “in the act” of spying on Thursday and detained briefly.
“Materials fully exposing this staff member of the U.S. Embassy in engaging in espionage activity incompatible with his official status were obtained in the course of the investigation,” the news agency said without amplifying further on the espionage charges.
A U.S. Embassy spokesman refused to comment on the Soviet charges. The spokesman also refused to say how long Stombaugh had been given to leave the country, although two weeks is standard. He said Stombaugh, his wife, Betsy, and son had lived in Moscow.
Stombaugh, in his first year of duty in the Soviet Union, is a second secretary in the Embassy’s political department specializing in the Baltic Republics.
Contacted by telephone by the Associated Press, Stombaugh refused to comment on the Soviet allegations and would not confirm that he had been detained as reported by Tass agency.
It was the first action against an American diplomat since the United States expelled Lt. Col. Stanislav I. Gromov, an assistant Soviet military attache, in April in retaliation for the March 24 shooting death of U.S. Army Maj. Arthur D. Nicholson Jr. by a Soviet military sentry in East Germany.
U.S. diplomats had expected Soviet retaliation at the time, but no action was taken.
The Stombaugh case marked the first time a U.S. diplomat was ordered out of the Soviet Union since Lon David Augustenborg, the U.S. vice consul in Leningrad, and his wife, Denise, were accused of espionage and expelled in September, 1983.
The Augustenborg case came days after the United States led the worldwide outcry of protest following the shooting down of Korean Air Lines flight OO7 by a Soviet jet fighter killing 269 persons.