Tretyakov was a career KGB/SVR officer. Before being posted in New-York, he worked in Ottawa, Canada.
Since 1995 he worked in New-York in the position of SVR deputy rezident (station chief) under the diplomatic cover of first secretary at Russia's mission at the United Nations. As was revealed later, Tretyakov was a double-agent passing secrets to Washington since approximately 1997.
In October 2000 Tretyakov disappeared with his wife, daughter and cat, telling the SVR in a statement: "My resignation will not harm the interests of the country." It was not until the end of January 2001 that his defection was first reported by the Associated Press, whereafter the news was broken in the Russian media, which reported that Russia's Foreign Ministry was insisting on having a consular meeting with him in order to make sure he was not forcefully kept by the US side. On 10 February 2001, it was revealed, with reference to "several American officials familiar with the case", that the defector "was in fact an officer in the S.V.R., Russia's foreign intelligence service, successor to the Soviet-era K.G.B." The timing of his decision was reportedly partly affected by the death of his mother in 1997, as she was the last close family member still living in Russia the state could threaten.
Upon defection, Tretyakov was debriefed by the Central Intelligence Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. He was given one of the largest U.S. financial packages ever for a foreign defector, over US$2 million, and resettled along with his family in an unknown location with a new name. His location has since become known to Russian journalists. Alexey Veselovsky, a TV reporter, interviewed Sergei Tretyakov in his house in Florida before he died.
In 2007, Tretyakov and his family were granted US citizenship.
In his interviews published in early 2008, Tretyakov maintained that he had never had any sort of problems when in the KGB/SVR service, nor had he ever requested any money from the US government; everything he received upon his defection was provided by the US government on their own initiative. He also claimed then that the chief motivation for his defection had been his "growing disgust with and contempt for, what was happening in Russia"; he said: "I saw with my own eyes what kind of people were governing the country. I arrived at the irrevocable conclusion that to serve those people is immoral, I wanted nothing to do with them." A second motive he mentioned was to provide a better future for his daughter "in a country that has a future".
He was reported to have been close to Sergey Lavrov, then Russia's UN mission head.
Read more about this topic: Sergei Tretyakov (intelligence Officer)
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