DOJ charges US citizens, Russian intelligence officers with conspiracy to act as foreign agents News
© WikiMedia (Mark A. Wilson)
DOJ charges US citizens, Russian intelligence officers with conspiracy to act as foreign agents

A federal grand jury in Florida Tuesday released a superseding indictment against four US citizens and three Russian nationals for conspiring with the Russian government to act as unregistered foreign agents. The conspiracy was called a “multi-year foreign malign influence campaign,” according to a press release from the US Department of Justice (DOJ).

The first indictment of Aleksandr Ionov, the founder and president of the “Anti-Globalization Movement of Russia” (AGMR), alleges that Ionov recruited members of US political groups to attend AGMR conferences to advocate for separatism. According to the indictment, Ionov monitored and partnered with US separatist groups and reported the activities of these groups to Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB). Ionov donated to these groups and at times directed their actions.

Ionov’s superseding indictment named US political groups which worked with Ionov, including the African People’s Socialist Party and Uhuru Movement (APSP), Black Hammer, and a political group advocating for California’s secession from the United States. The DOJ claims that Ionov funded protests and demonstrations in at least three states.

One of Ionov’s co-conspirators, Jesse Nevel, ran for local political office in St. Petersburg, Florida in 2017. The indictment describes a report Ionov drafted for the FSB, explaining that prior campaigns Ionov supported in Florida would make it possible to “carry out more effective campaigns during municipal elections” and “lay the groundwork for a new electoral base.” The indictment also noted that Ionov funded protests in Washington, D.C. in 2019.

Ionov was charged under 18 USC 371 for conspiracy to commit an offense against or to defraud the United States. The superseding indictment notes Ionov did not notify the US government he was an agent of a foreign government in violation of 18 USC 951.

Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. said the announcement demonstrates the DOJ’s commitment to “eradicating foreign malign influence from the US political system and helping ensure the integrity of our elections.”

The superseding indictment comes one day after the FBI arrested two Chinese nationals for running a secret police station on behalf of the Chinese government in New York City. Both were charged with conspiring to act as unregistered foreign agents and obstruction of justice.