NEW YORK — Soviet spy suspect Gennady F. Zakharov said today that he was a victim of "spy mania" designed to damage U.S.-Soviet relations and that he was only doing research when he was arrested for espionage.
Zakharov said that his arrest had been engineered by the United States "to undercut relations between our two countries" and that his case was not linked to that of American journalist Nicholas Daniloff, who is being detained in Moscow.
"I was set up," Zakharov said in his first news conference since his arrest on a subway platform Aug. 23. "Mr. Daniloff was detained. He was officially indicted for his espionage."
'Just Doing Research'
Zakharov, a scientist for the United Nations, repeatedly denied he was a spy, saying, "I was just doing research."
"As far as secret materials were concerned, I never asked for them and I never received them," he said.
He said his arrest and arraignment on three counts of espionage occurred in an "atmosphere of spy mania."
"I believe that this act was meant to undermine or undercut relations between our two countries," he said.
Zakharov, 39, was released last Friday on his own recognizance based on five conditions, including the immediate release of Daniloff, the Moscow bureau chief for U.S. News & World Report, held on espionage charges in the Soviet Union.