Although this is really rather strange:
The case is being compared to that of Anna Chapman, a suspected Russian spy who was arrested in New York and then returned to Russia under a \”spy swap exchange\” earlier this month. There is no evidence that the two women knew one another.
It has been reported that Miss Fermanova was arrested on July 15th for \”knowingly and intentionally\” attempting to export \”defense articles on the United States Munitions list.\” The night-vision goggles and scopes cannot be exported without approval from the US State Department, as they are considered to be sophisticated military weapons.
Among the items she was caught with were a Raptor 4X Night Vision Weapons Sight, which she had bought online. A customs agent claimed that the sight\’s ID numbers \”had been covered with black marker pens\”.
The strangeness is that a), Russia is a major producer of exactly these Generation 3 rifle scopes (yes, I\’ve been to the factory) and that b) it\’s not entirely certain that such a scope would be on the State Department list.
Now I agree, it\’s been some years since I looked at the State Department list (or even the other list kept by Commerce) and I\’m entirely happy to believe that such night vision jobbies will be on the list.
However, there\’s a little let out in the system. Even if something is on the list and yet it is also \”generally available at retail\” then it\’s not a controlled item. Walmart seems not to sell the specific model but they do seem to sell something very similar from another manufacturer. And there seem to be enough online retailers for it to be possible to say that it\’s \”generally available\”.
No, of course I\’m not a lawyer but I\’d think it likely that she\’s got a get out of jail free card here.
As to why she did it no, not spying. Or at least, not spying for a government. This is pure commercial espionage: the Russian manufacturer wanting to see what competitors are making.
And why not? I have a buddy who regularly buys the new Russian version of whatever tank is coming out. It gets shipped to the US manufacturers of tanks so they can take it apart to see what makes it tick…..