In brief A Russian national has been hit with a five-count indictment alleging he smuggled hardware and software used for counterintelligence operations out of the US to the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) and North Korea.
Ilya Balakaev’s indictment [PDF] was unsealed Friday in Brooklyn, New York. He’s being charged with conspiracy to defraud the US, conspiracy to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, two counts of conspiracy to violate the Export Control Reform Act and smuggling.
Per the indictment, Balakaev began smuggling spectrum analyzers and signal generators for the FSB as early as 2017, and as of now is believed to have taken approximately 43 devices out of the country in 14 trips to the US. Co-conspirators are alleged to have shipped several devices to Russia for Balakaev as well.
Spectrum analyzers of the kind Balakaev is accused of smuggling are often used to detect radio signals to identify hidden surveillance devices, while the signal generators are often used to securely transmit information as a part of covert operations.
According to the charges, the hardware Balakaev smuggled to Russia was used to repair similar units owned by the FSB that were manufactured in the US, but for which the Russian government couldn’t get parts due to sanctions.
Balakaev is also accused of smuggling an Altair 4X gas detector, used to detect combustible and toxic gasses as well as oxygen-deficient atmospheres, and related software to North Korea.
According to the indictment, neither Balakaev nor his