Former US home of Russian spies on the market

MONTCLAIR, New Jersey (AP) - The suburban home boasts four bedrooms, an updated kitchen - and the chance to own a slice of Russian spy history.

The US Marshals Service is selling a New Jersey home whose previous owners were arrested in 2010 by the FBI and accused of being members of a Russian spy ring.

Authorities said the former occupants went by the aliases Richard and Cynthia Murphy and led what appeared to be a banal suburban life. Lawyers for the couple said the man was a stay-at-home father to two daughters and his wife worked for a New York accounting firm and made US$135,000 (S$166,920) a year.

It was all an elaborate, illegal ruse. The couple, whose real names are Vladimir and Lydia Guryev, was part of a group of deep-cover Russian operatives who had been living in the US for years.

The Guryevs and eight others were arrested in June 2010 after a decade-long counterintelligence probe that led to the biggest spy swap since the Cold War. Both pleaded guilty to conspiring to act as an unregistered agent of a foreign country and were deported.

Prosecutors described a ring that used techniques both elaborate and seemingly out of a Cold War spy movie. The group meshed into American life while engaging in clandestine global travel with fake passports, using invisible ink and engaging in practices so sophisticated the government would not describe them in open court.

It was all towards the goal of infiltrating US policy circles and learning about US diplomacy and weapons information.

In 2009, authorities allege, the Guryevs were asked to find information from people involved in US politics and foreign policy about President Barack Obama's impending trip to Russia and how he would negotiate with regards to the START nuclear arms treaty, Afghanistan and Iran's nuclear program.

Authorities said they found US$80,000 in US$100 bills in the home, which was paid for by the Russian government.

The home has a US$444,900 list price.

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