Russian spy suspects: Does Russia still need spies in the US?

Russian spy suspects used high-tech methods but allegedly sent only low-level information back home.

A ring of Russian spy suspects arrested in the US this week sent encrypted messages embedded in website photos and handed off material in "brush passes" and "dead drops."

But they have been charged merely with conspiracy to act as an unregistered agent for a foreign government and with conspiracy to commit money laundering. No espionage charges were filed because of the simple fact that they were never observed sending classified information. Their dispatches were the kind of stuff you'd find on the web, such as the outlook for the global gold market and President Obama's goals for a summit in Russia.

Which begs the question, why should Moscow have bothered? Does Russia even need spies in the US in the post cold-war era, especially in the age of the Internet?

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