The FBI is running Facebook ads to recruit Russian spies, Donie O’Sullivan and David Shortell at CNN reported on Wednesday.
The three ads contain images and illustrations overlaid with Russian text; they are accompanied by information about reporting knowledge to the FBI.
“We cannot comment except to note that Russia has a large number of intelligence officers based in Russian diplomatic facilities around the world. They are very active and pose a security risk to the U.S. and our allies,” read a statement provided to Business Insider by the FBI on behalf of Alan E. Kohler Jr., a special agent in charge of the FBI Washington Field Office’s Counterintelligence Division.
“Russia has long been a counterintelligence threat to the U.S. and election interference is certainly an important concern, but it’s not the only one,” the statement reads. “The FBI uses a variety of means to gather information, including the use of sources. The FBI will use all legal means available to locate individuals with information that can help protect the United States from threats to our national security.
Facebook did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment.
Once clicked, these ads direct to the website of the FBI’s Washington Field Office Counterintelligence Program.
“The mission of the counterintelligence program at the FBI’s Washington Field Office is to protect the American people and uphold the Constitution of the United States through the detection, identification, and neutralization of hostile foreign intelligence activities,” the website reads.
“The FBI obtains the best intelligence to combat this threat through information provided by the public. If you have information that can help the FBI fulfill this mission, visit us in person,” the website continues, followed by Washington Field Office address. “The information you provide will be handled in a confidential manner, and our interactions with you will be professional and respectful of your security.”
The full message is repeated in Russian underneath.
CNN intelligence and security analyst Bob Baer, who is also a former CIA agent, told CNN that these ads are “seeding the idea of volunteering for the FBI” in the minds of agents on US soil who are spying for Russia.
“The thing with Russian spies is 99 percent of them are walk-ins, and these people make the decision on their own completely,” Baer told CNN, referring to Russian spies who then decide to inform the US.