The Communist Party newspaper Pravda said yesterday that a U.S. diplomat had been expelled from Leningrad for spying, but U.S. officials said there has not been an expulsion of an American posted in Leningrad for "several years."
Pravda said "Vice Consul D. Shorer" was seized by KGB secret police while retrieving a "magnetic container" of information planted by a Soviet double agent.
A spokesman at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow said, "The case, if it occurred at all, is out of the past and not anything recent. It didn't happen in the last two years, and no one recalls anything like it in recent years."
In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Sue Pittman declined to comment on whether any man named D. Shorer ever was expelled from the Soviet Union.
According to the State Department Biographic Register, a David W. Schorer served as a consular officer in Leningrad from 1972 to 1974. The entry designated Schorer as "R" or reserve foreign service officer, a status sometimes indicating intelligence personnel working under State Department cover.
On Jan. 10, 1974, Schorer was roughed up in the streets of Leningrad and taken to a police station, the State Department said at the time. News reports said Schorer was attacked in a street after visiting an American patient in a Leningrad hospital. The register indicates that he was stationed in Washington as of 1974.
The Soviet Union occasionally publicizes spy cases long after the fact. In recent weeks, Western European nations have expelled dozens of Soviets on spying charges, and the United States ordered out two alleged Soviet spies.
Pravda, in a long back-page article headlined "Nearly a Detective Story," said double agent "Boris N." had planted a container of information in an electrical transformer at Leningrad's Botkin hospital and that Shorer was grabbed by plainclothesmen as he was picking it up.