Officials say Russian agents Donald Heathfield and Tracey Foley sought to groom son Tim Foley to be a spy.
A Russian spy ring busted in the U.S. two years ago planned to recruit members' children to become agents, and one had already agreed to his parents' request, according to current and former U.S. officials.
When the suspects were arrested in 2010 with much fanfare, official accounts suggested they were largely ineffectual. New details about their time in the U.S., however, suggest their work was more sophisticated and sometimes more successful than previously known.
One of them infiltrated a well-connected consulting firm with offices in Manhattan and Washington, D.C., by working as the company's in-house computer expert, according to people familiar with the long-running U.S. investigation of the spy ring.
The effort to bring children into the family business suggests the ring was thinking long term: Children born or reared in America were potentially more valuable espionage assets than their parents because when they grew up they would be more likely to pass a U.S. government background check.
A spokesman at the Russian embassy in Washington declined to comment. Officials in Moscow have previously acknowledged the spy ring but haven't commented further. All the captured suspects eventually pleaded guilty to acting as secret agents for the Russian government.