The "12th man” taken into custody by U.S. officials in the Russian spy probe worked for Microsoft Corp., a spokesman for the company confirmed Wednesday.
Alexey Karetnikov, 23, worked as an entry-level software tester for nine months in the company’s Redmond, Wash., office, said Microsoft spokesman Lou Gellos.
Karetnikov voluntarily agreed to be deported from the United States on Tuesday after he admitted to violating immigration law, according to the Homeland Security Department.
Gellos said he had no other information at this time about the employee or his current status. News of Karetnikov's most recent employer was first reported by Bloomberg News.
(Msnbc.com is a joint venture of Microsoft and NBC News.)
Karetnikov’s name came up during their lengthy investigation of the ring of Russian agents, U.S. officials said, although they believe Karetnikov was not a part of the ring.
The FBI and Justice Department monitored Karetnikov closely but were unable to find any connection between him and the 11 Russians indicted in late June, officials told NBC News. Karetnikov used his real name and did not seem to have any contact with the members of the spy ring.
A Facebook page of a person identified as “Alexey V Karetnikov” indicates the Russian was married and worked as an SDET – or Software Development Engineer in Test position -- at Microsoft’s Redmond headquarters. The page also says he was a senior developer at a software development company called NeoBit and graduated from St. Petersburg State Polytechnic University in 2009.
Last Thursday, 10 Russians pled guilty for serving as unregistered foreign agents in the U.S. The next day, U.S. and Russian officials arranged a Cold War-esque “spy swap” – the 10 Russian agents for four Western agents who had been detained in Russian prisons.
The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that U.S. authorities had detained a previously undisclosed 12th person through their “Illegals” investigation. Karetnikov’s visa was canceled June 26 – the day before FBI agents arrested 10 of the 11 members of the Russian spy ring, the newspaper reported.
The whereabouts of an 11th suspect named Christopher Metsos are currently unknown. Metsos, dubbed by U.S. officials as the “paymaster” of the spy ring, was arrested by Cyprus officials on June 29 on an Interpol warrant. He fled custody, however, after posting $33,000 bail.