Mr. Fuentes and his spouse had been instructed to go away, however safety cameras captured the incident. Two days later, he tried to fly to Mexico, however U.S. Customs and Border Safety officers stopped him and searched his cellphone, discovering the image of Mr. Poteyev’s car.
After he was arrested, Mr. Fuentes provided details of the plan to American investigators. He believed the Russian official he had been assembly labored for the F.S.B., Russia’s inside safety service. However covert operations abroad are often run by the S.V.R., which succeeded the Okay.G.B., or the G.R.U., Russia’s army intelligence company.
One of many former officers mentioned Mr. Fuentes, unaware of the goal’s significance, was merely gathering info for the Russians to make use of later.
Mr. Fuentes’s lawyer, Ronald Gainor, declined to remark.
The plot, together with different Russian actions, elicited a harsh response from the U.S. authorities. In April 2021, the US imposed sanctions and expelled 10 Russian diplomats, together with the chief of station for the S.V.R., who was based mostly in Washington and had two years left on his tour, two former American officers mentioned. Throwing out the chief of station will be extremely disruptive to intelligence operations, and company officers suspected that Russia was more likely to search reprisal on its American counterpart in Moscow, who had solely weeks left in that function, the officers mentioned.
“We can’t permit a international energy to intrude in our democratic course of with impunity,” President Biden said on the White Home in announcing the penalties. He made no point out of the plot involving Mr. Fuentes.
Positive sufficient, Russia banished 10 American diplomats, together with the C.I.A.’s chief of station in Moscow.
Adam Entous contributed reporting.