WASHINGTON — The State Department expelled a Soviet diplomat attached to the Soviet mission to the United Nations today, accusing him of espionage.
State Department spokesman Charles E. Redman identified the diplomat as Mikhail Katkov, a second secretary at the Soviet Mission in New York.
He said Katkov is being expelled "and is expected to depart shortly." The official reason was "abuse of his diplomatic privileges," State Department terminology meaning involvement with espionage.
Katkov was arrested Thursday in New York by the FBI, claimed diplomatic immunity and was released.
Redman said, "We can't speculate on Soviet actions, but there would be no justification for any retaliation by the Soviet Union." In such expulsion cases, it is a common practice for the other side to react by expelling a diplomat in retaliation.
Administration officials described the case as a "sensitive issue." The detention of the Soviet official comes exactly one week after the close of the third superpower summit between President Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev.