updated 10:40 am EDT, Wed July 14, 2010
Microsoft unknowingly hired Russian secret agent
Microsoft suffered a wound to its public image today as it was revealed that a new Russian spy had been caught working at the company. Alexey Karetnikov had been working as a Software Design Engineer in Test at the Windows developer since October and was ordered out of the country on Monday after falling afoul of US immigration law. A Washington Post source in federal law enforcement, however, said that Karetnikov had "just set up shop" as a spy in Redmond, Washington and that the immigration charges were technicalities used without enough evidence of actual crimes to bring espionage charges so soon.
No information was leaked since the agent had been in the US, the insider said. The FBI reportedly monitored Karetnikov since he had arrived in the country. The arrest is the 11th of a Russian agent in the US and comes independent of the discovery of a spy ring that had resulted in the first 10 arrests.
Microsoft spokesman Lou Gellos confirmed that Karetnikov had been an employee and had been deported, but wouldn't comment further on the circumstances.
The hiring of a spy is nonetheless the latest in a series of employee-related blows at Microsoft. It recently saw J Allard and Robbie Bach leave amid unconfirmed rumors of discontent with strategy. A decision to cancel the Kin after just six weeks on sale also saw employees rolled into the Windows Phone division after accusations of infighting, and it recently cut hundreds of jobs in an effort to trim overhead as it hires in other areas.