Rice University expert available to comment on Russian espionage case in Houston

David Ruth

Jeff Falk

Rice University expert available to comment on Russian espionage case in Houston

HOUSTON — (Oct. 3, 2012) – The Kazakhstan-born owner of a Texas export firm was charged in New York today with being a secret Russian agent involved in a multimillion-dollar scheme to, in the words of a U.S. prosecutor, “steal American technology” for Russian military and intelligence agencies. According to news reports, the FBI arrested the main suspect and eight others Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, and they were to be arraigned in Houston. 

Christopher Bronk, a fellow in information technology policy at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy and a former U.S. State Department diplomat who specializes in cybersecurity issues, is available to comment on this development.

Bronk said economic espionage is still very much a problem with regard to Russia. “The U.S. high-technology industry is persistently targeted by Russia and other foreign powers, and Houston, as a global city, is an important location for espionage and cyberespionage,” Bronk said.

He said U.S. counterintelligence activities are able to bring cases to prosecution, but those prosecutions don’t necessarily mitigate the damage done to U.S. interests. Bronk said this case serves as a cautionary tale to American companies. “U.S. firms need to understand that they are targeted and perform adequate due diligence in high-technology transfer and transactions,” he said.

To schedule an interview with Bronk, contact Jeff Falk, associate director of national media relations at Rice, at jfalk@rice.edu or 713-348-6775.


Bronk bio: http://bakerinstitute.org/personnel/fellows-scholars/cbronk

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Founded in 1993, the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University in Houston ranks among the top 20 university-affiliated think tanks globally and top 30 think tanks in the United States. As a premier nonpartisan think tank, the institute sponsors more than 20 programs that conduct research on domestic and foreign policy issues with the goal of bridging the gap between the theory and practice of public policy. The institute’s strong track record of achievement reflects the work of its endowed fellows and Rice University scholars. Learn more about the institute at www.bakerinstitute.org or on the institute’s blog, http://blogs.chron.com/bakerblog.  

About Jeff Falk

Jeff Falk is associate director of national media relations in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.