The defendants allegedly received their directions from the Russian military intelligence division known as the "SVR." The complaint alleges that members of the group sought to establish ties with congressional aides and scientists who worked on nuclear weapons development.
According to the complaint, in the spring of 2009, officials at the SVR headquarters known as the "Moscow Center" sought information from the Murphys from individuals who were identified as U.S. foreign policy officials to "try and outline their views and most important Obama's goals which he expects to achieve during summit in July and how does this team plan to do it."
According to the FBI, some of the people the accused spies met with include a former legislative counsel for U.S. Congress, a former high ranking U.S. government national security official, a person working on bunker busting nuclear warheads, and a New York financier who is prominent in politics and a major fundraiser for an un-named political party.
The FBI has referred to the operatives as "The Illegals" who were sent to the U.S. undercover after extensive training to assume false identities.
In one message that was decrypted by the FBI the message allegedly sent to Chapman and Semenko said, "You were sent to USA for long term service trip. Your education, bank accounts, car, house ect… -all these serve one goal: fulfil your main mission, i.e to search and develop ties in policymaking circles in US to send intel [intelligence reports] to C. [center]"
The criminal complaint in this case alleges contacts with officials operating out of the Russian mission at the United Nations and the Russian embassy in Washington, DC.
The complaint charging Chapman alleges that on 10 occasions between Jan. 2010 and June 2010, Chapman was observed on FBI surveillance communicating covertly via a private internet wireless network with a Russian government official including a coffee shop at 47th and 8th Ave and other locations around New York City. On Saturday, the day before she was arrested, the FBI used an undercover FBI agent, posing as a Russian Consulate employee to approach Chapman to set up a meeting with her to discuss problems she was having with her computer.
One of the other defendants, Semenko, was allegedly observed by FBI agents on June 5 meeting a Russian government official at a restaurant in Washington DC, who had arrived at the meeting in a car with Russian diplomatic plates.