What started as a simple fraud investigation, has turned into a spy thriller as some of the 49 Russian diplomats and their spouses accused of defrauding Medicaid "were also engaged in espionage," according to a new report on CNN. How many of those 49 diplomats and relatives were spies is unclear, but it's yet another stick in the eye for U.S. and Russian relations.
No one from the group of accused diplomats (which includes Russian consulate employees and at least one former Russian embassy employee) will face espionage charges, CNN's Evan Perez reports, due to a lack of evidence.
The Medicaid fraud was bad enough for the already rocky Russia-U.S. relationship in a post-Snowden world. Spying accusations are the new black with these two. "Counterintelligence officials say Russian spying activity in the U.S. is back to near Cold War levels," according to CNN. The FBI recently accused the leader of the Russian Cultural Center in Washington of recruiting new spies from within the U.S. with all-expense paid trips to Russia.
Last week, 25 current and former Russian diplomats and 24 of their spouses were charged with spending $1.5 million worth of Medicaid funds on fancy trinkets and nice vacations. Only 11 of the accused remain in the U.S. though, and all have diplomatic immunity, preventing the Justice Department from filing charges. Instead, the Russians will likely be thrown out of the country.