Podcast Episode #3 – The Man in Moscow with Michael Sellers.
CIA case officer Michael Sellers was arrested by KGB agents in Moscow on March 10th, 1986. The agent who handcuffed him and led him from the scene was Colonel Vladimir Zaitsev of the Alpha Group, who also arrested Adolph Tolkachev, now known as the Billion Dollar Spy, the year before.
Sellers was arriving for a very high-risk meeting with Sergey Vorontsov, a CIA source within the KGB assigned the codename GT/COWL. Vorontsov had previously provided a sample of NPPD, known as “spy dust”, a chemical used to track the movement of Americans across Moscow. Years later, the CIA learned that Vorontsov had been captured by his fellow KGB agents after famed CIA traitor Aldrich Ames gave the Soviets his name in 1985. Vorontsov was interrogated and turned against the CIA. Sellers’ arrest was filmed for propaganda purposes and he was then quickly kicked out of the country.
The disguise items Michael was wearing for this meeting are now on display at the KGB museum in Moscow. Vorontsov sadly met a far worse fate for his collaboration with the CIA.
I interviewed Michael for episode three of the Spycraft 101 podcast. His career with the CIA took him to Poland, Ethiopia, the Soviet Union, and later the Philippines. We talked about what brought him to the CIA in the first place, his various missions across the world, what it was like to operate in Moscow during the Cold War, and his interactions with other now-famous figures of the Cold War, including Clayton Lonetree, Violetta Seina, and Colonel Nick Rowe. Michael went on to a career in the film industry in Hollywood after he left the CIA, and he shared some extremely exciting news about an upcoming project.
Michael’s website: https://www.michaeldsellers.com