The United States formally complained to Moscow on Friday about possible danger to Ambassador Michael McFaul, a day after he described Russia as a "wild country" and charged repeatedly that a state-run broadcaster there may be hacking his email, spying on his telephone conversations and tracking his movements.
"We have raised our concerns about the Ambassador's security with the Russian government," the State Department said in a terse written statement.
McFaul, a key architect of President Barack Obama's "reset" of relations with Russia, took to his Twitter feed on Thursday to charge that reporters with the Kremlin-controlled NTV television were stalking him and openly wondered how they obtained his schedule, which is not published.
"Everywhere I go NTV is there. Wonder who gives them my calendar? They wouldn't tell me. Wonder what the laws are here for such things?" he said in one Tweet. "I respect press' right to go anywhere & ask any question. But do they have a right to read my email and listen to my phone?" he said in another.
McFaul also made waves by engaging in a combative five-minute exchange in Russian Thursday with an NTV camera crew as he was on his way to a meeting with a human rights activist and critic of the Kremlin, Lev Ponomaryov.
"For me this is a very serious question because this is against the Geneva convention if you are going to get information from my telephone or my BlackBerry," McFaul said, Agence France-Presse reported.
"This is a wild country, it turns out. This is not normal. It does not happen in our country, it does not happen in Britain, in Germany, in China. Only here and only with you," he said.
In the footage, a reporter seen on camera told him she heard of the meeting from "open sources" without specifying.
McFaul later clarified his remarks on Twitter, saying "Just watched NTV. I mispoke in bad Russian. Did not mean to say 'wild country.' Meant to say NTV actions 'wild.' I greatly respect Russia."
The incident came as Obama weathered a controversy over candid but caught-on-tape comments to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, promising he will have more "flexibility" on issues like missile defense after the November election.
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- President Barack Obama
- Michael McFaul