ISSN 2330-717X

Eggheads Employed As Spies – OpEd


By Anastasiya Pershkina

Last year, an American applying for a position in the CIA was exposed as a Chinese spy. Mr Glenn Duffie Shriver had been recruited in China, where he spent some time as a university student. His case triggered a wave of soul-searching and fears that international student exchanges may soon fill the US with foreign spies to a degree comparable with the one that existed during the Cold War.

Dr Igor Khokhlov is a senior expert at the Institute of World Economy and International Relations of the Russian Academy of Sciences:

“Recruiting young college and university students, particularly at top-notch institutions, supplies spy masters with lifetime agents who also often occupy key positions within the highest decision-making bodies in their countries. Indeed, recruiting brilliant students for intelligence work does pay.”

Another American spy scare is a multitude of foreign-born engineers and scientists in the United States.

Dr Khokhlov again: “Taking advantage of sluggish American competition for moderately-paid jobs which are also subject to secrecy constraints, immigrants from China and India have occupied numerous positions in America’s defence research establishment. To keep this establishment going, the US has to tolerate the presence of countless Chinese- and Indian-born employees in it.”

Head of the Russian association of counter-terror veterans Sergei Goncharov takes a close look at the root cause of America’s spy panic: “Regardless of the technology now available, any real intelligence-gathering operation relies on human agents. Indeed, they possess intellectual and physical qualities which no technology will ever be able to rival. A woman, for instance, can extract a wealth of intelligence from a man.”

In Washington, meanwhile, a bill is in the works to make it more difficult to use international student exchanges for recruiting spies.


VOR, or the Voice of Russia, was the Russian government's international radio broadcasting service from 1993 until 2014, when it was reorganised as Radio Sputnik.

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