Former Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak today denied he was a Kremlin spy, calling the reported allegation "nonsense."
"Nonsense, nonsense," he told CNN. "You should be ashamed because CNN is the company that keeps pointing to this allegation. It's nonsense."
CNN, citing current and former U.S. intelligence officials, reported in March that Kislyak was believed to be a "top spy and recruiter of spies" for Russian intelligence. Russian officials have sharply denied the accusation.
"This background is being used to plant rumors about the allegedly secret meetings between Russian embassy staff and Americans in Washington," said a Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson the day of the CNN report, before adding sarcastically, "I’ll tell you a military secret: the job of a diplomat includes holding meetings in the receiving state. This is a written truth. If diplomats don’t maintain contacts and don’t attend negotiations, they are not diplomats."
James Comey, the former director of the FBI which is America's leading counter-intelligence agency, testified before Congress in June that he did not believe Kislyak was personally a spy.
"He's a diplomat who is the chief of mission at the Russian Embassy, which employs a robust cohort of intelligence officers," Comey said. "So, surely, he is witting of their aggressive intelligence operations, at least some of it in the United States. I don't consider him to be an intelligence officer himself. He's a diplomat."
Kislyak was recalled to Moscow after his name repeatedly popped up in the media concerning stories about the Trump campaigns alleged links to Russian officials. In his place, the Kremlin said it's sending longtime government official Anatoly Anatov described by American counterparts as "formidable."