Via Washington Post:
Yevgenia Albats, editor of the independent New Times magazine, said talk of a conspiracy to poison bilateral relations was Russia’s version of an official denial. “What else are they going to say? They caught these guys red-handed,” she said. “You never acknowledge your own spies, because you don’t want to support the foreign justice system in bringing charges.”
Calling the case “very plausible,” she asked why the authorities would organize such an elaborate operation to collect what seems to have been basic information. For example, she noted that two of the suspects appeared to have been targeting university professors who easily could have been invited to conferences in Russia.
“It’s very strange. You pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to put these people through college, give them identities, to do what?” she said. “Why do governments spend this money on intelligence when journalists can do it better?”