A graduate of Harvard Kennedy School was arrested yesterday for allegedly spying on behalf of the Russian government in order to infiltrate U.S. policymaking circles.
The defendant, who is referred to in documents released by the U.S. Department of Justice as Donald Howard Heathfield, allegedly met with a U.S. government official involved with nuclear weapons research and was tasked with assembling data on U.S. foreign policy, including American policies regarding Central Asia, assessments of Russian foreign policy by Western nations, and the policies of the United States concerning Internet use by terrorists.
Heathfield—who received a master’s in public administration from the Kennedy School in 2000, according to the Harvard alumni directory—was arrested at his Trowbridge Street apartment by FBI agents, as was a woman listed in the Harvard directory as his spouse. This woman, referred to as Tracey Lee Ann Foley, does not appear to have any connection to the University.
Both Heathfield and Foley were charged with conspiracy to act as an agent of a foreign government and conspiracy to commit money laundering. Together, the charges carry a maximum penalty of 25 years.
These arrests were part of a series of arrests across four states Sunday and were the product of a multi-year investigation by the FBI and other federal agencies into a program that officials believe was sanctioned by the SVR, the Russian foreign intelligence service.
Called the “Boston Conspirators” in a complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, Heathfield and Foley are alleged to have met with a “former legislative counsel for US Congress” and a “member of faculty in economics.” The documents redacted the affiliation of the faculty member.
Additionally, Heathfield had allegedly been in contact with a former high-ranking national security official and had engaged in conversations regarding small-yield, high-penetration nuclear warheads. Throughout the time period, Heathfield and Foley were allegedly in regular communication with the SVR.
The documents make little indication of the true identities of Heathfield and Foley. Heathfield, who claimed to be a Canadian-born U.S. citizen, is believed to have assumed the name of someone who is now deceased. Prosecutors said in court documents that operatives often assume false identities and “will sometimes pursue degrees at target-country universities, obtain employment, and join relevant professional associations."
Spokespeople for the Kennedy School were not immediately available for comment. A University spokesman declined to comment late Monday evening.
—Staff writer Naveen N. Srivatsa can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.