The woman had been working at the U.S. embassy for over a decade before American investigators found that she was having unauthorized meetings with Russian security officials, the Guardian reported, citing an intelligence source.
The woman was quietly dismissed last year as the U.S. Secret Service sought to avoid public embarrassment on the matter, the Guardian reported, adding that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to order 750 U.S. diplomatic staff out of Russia served to create a smokescreen for her dismissal.
A senior U.S. official told CNN that the woman, who the official said had access to the Secret Service’s email systems, was caught red-handed in a meeting with the Federal Security Service (FSB), Russia’s main security agency.
“We figure all of them are talking to the FSB, but she was giving them way more information than she should have,” the official told CNN. “We knew it was happening and it was just a process of playing it out and giving her specific information that we saw her give back to the FSB.”
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The Secret Service said in a statement that the Guardian article was “wrought with irresponsible and inaccurate reporting.”
It said foreign service nationals (FSNs) who work for the U.S. are known to be vulnerable to foreign intelligence influence, particularly in Russia, and that the Secret Service manages their access and permissions under the assumption that they are under the control of Russian intelligence.
As a result, while FSNs are tasked with engaging with the Russian government and security agencies, their duties are “limited to translation, interpretation, cultural guidance, liaison and administrative support,” and they are not privy to state secrets, the Secret Service said.
The agency admitted that the FSN’s employment was terminated after a “scheduled security update,” but denied any efforts to sweep the matter under the carpet.
“Reports the Secret Service attempted to minimize or deliberately not disclose the U.S. State Department’s findings are categorically false,” said the statement.
WATCH: Russian agent Maria Butina was at 2015 conference attended by Trump
The reports come just over two weeks after U.S. authorities arrested Russian national Maria Butina in Washington, D.C. over suspicions that she worked for Russian intelligence.
Butina is accused of infiltrating a pro-gun rights organization in the U.S. at the behest of a high-powered Russian official, as part of a mission to influence U.S. foreign policy towards Russia.