ADVERTISEMENT
Related topics

Head of US-Soviet Friendship Group Arrested

February 8, 1989 GMT

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The head of a U.S. group the FBI says is a propaganda arm of the Kremlin has been charged by federal authorities with trying to hide $17,000 he allegedly received from a Soviet Communist Party affiliate.

Alan Thomson, 57, executive director of the National Council of American- Soviet Friendship, was released on a $100,000 personal recognizance bond after arraignment in federal court in Brooklyn, New York, before U.S. Magistrate John Caden. He did not enter a plea.

The council has chapters in 25 states and has organized U.S.-Soviet tours and such events as the signing of the People’s Peace Appeal at the United Nations, according to a 1987 FBI report called ″Soviet Active Measures in the United States.″

The one-paragraph federal indictment dealt only with the currency charge and did not refer to the propaganda activities alleged by the FBI.

Active measures are a form of intelligence, including disinformation, through which one power seeks to discredit another or to build up its own image through covert activities.

According to the FBI, the American-Soviet council was founded by the Communist Party of the United States in 1943 and ″operates as a Soviet front group which provides the Soviets with an excellent conduit to promote its active measures campaigns, meet with U.S. persons of influence, spot and assess U.S. persons for recruitment operations, and influence certain groups of activists in the U.S. peace movement.″

Thomson, contacted by telephone at his Manhattan office, declined to discuss the indictment or the allegations of his links with the Soviet Communist Party.

″I am under federal indictment,″ said Thomson. He confirmed that he had been arrested. ″But on the advice of counsel, I am not going to say anything further.″

The indictment charges Thomson with trying to evade bank reporting requirements by having the $17,000 deposited in a Buffalo bank in two transactions of less than $10,000 each. Deposits over $10,000 must be reported to the government.

Thomson was indicted by a federal grand jury in Buffalo, where he allegedly had another person make the deposits at Goldome Federal Savings Bank, an FBI statement said. The other person was not identified.

″These funds were provided to Thomson in Moscow by a Soviet official of the USSR Society for Friendship and Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries,″ the statement said.

ADVERTISEMENT

In having two deposits made of less than $10,000 each, ″Thomson avoided an inquiry from the bank which would have caused the bank to report ... the source of that cash deposit,″ the FBI statement said. It did not say when the transaction occurred.

The charge carries a maximum penalty upon conviction of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

A U.S. expert in Soviet active measures, Roy Godson of the National Strategy Information Center, said the arrest was the first he knew of concerning such Soviet activities in the United States.

The FBI report said that the USSR Society for Friendship and Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries is controlled by the International Department of the Central Committee of the Soviet Communist Party. The head of the International Department is Valentin Falin, formerly the chief of the semi- official Soviet news agency Novosti, and one-time Soviet ambassador to West Germany.

Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev is general secretary of the 300- member Central Committee, which maintains a large secretariat adjacent to the Kremlin from which it runs party affairs.

According to the FBI report on Thomson’s organization, ″Soviet direction of the NCASF is channeled through the Union of Soviet Societies for Friendship and Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries, with ultimate authority resting with the International Department.″

″Soviet representatives of the (union) are in regular contact with NCASF officials and direct the NCASF to conduct activities to support Soviet active measures campaigns,″ according to the FBI report.

Soviet defectors, such as former KGB agent Stanislav Levchenko, have testified that the Soviet friendship societies work closely with Service A of the Soviet KGB intelligence organization in running disinformation campaigns.

FBI agents arrested Thomson on Tuesday morning at his Brooklyn home. Bureau spokesman Joseph Valiquette declined to provide details, including why Thomson would have sought to conceal the source of the money.

A woman who answered the telephone at the Manhattan-based council said it was a privately funded organization that sponsors trips to the Soviet Union by children’s and trade groups and maintains a small film and book library.

″We inform the public of the work of the Soviet Union,″ said the woman, who declined to give her name. ″We’re nothing but a small organization and we don’t deal with anything illegal.″

Asked about the charges against Thomson, she said: ″I’m sure all this stuff is going to fly by. ... It’s just nonsense as usual.″