What do submarines, online dating, and an alleged meeting with the president of
They're all part of an odd and colorful spy case being heard this week in U.S. federal court. Just how the pieces fit together remains to be seen.
The man at the center of the case,
The 40-year-old retired in late 2011 and soon traveled to
Nearly two years later, Hoffman is in court to face charges of passing classified information to men he thought were Russian agents. Hoffman says he was, in fact, attempting to help the U.S. government catch the supposed spies. He could face life in prison if convicted.
Hoffman was arrested in
It didn't take long for intrigue to emerge.
According to a secret recording of one of the dates that was played for the court, Hoffman claimed to have met a rather important figure during his time in
"In the information that has been put into evidence, [Hoffman] said he met some women in either
Hoffman also mentioned a set of gold-tone "challenge coins" that he had ordered from a manufacturer, which depicted the old and new Belarusian flags on either side. Such coins are usually used in the U.S. armed services to commemorate missions. Hoffman said he gave some of the coins to the women he had befriended and then to President Alyaksandr Lukashenka himself in
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