Richard Manlio Leonidas Setaro (b. 1903) was an American who served as deputy chief of the Latin American department of CBS Radio during World War II and maintained a covert relationship with Soviet intelligence. Setaro entered the United States in 1942 to study journalism. He had previously operated a news agency in Buenos Aires which distributed TASS News Agency dispatches. A 1943 deciphered Venona message identifies Setaro as a courier for KGB funds which list as expenditures "maintainance of the Apparat" and "operational work".
A 1944 New York KGB message to Moscow stated,
- "Setaro is working as deputy chief of the Latin American department of the Columbia Broadcasting System. He was used by us earlier for the most part on liaison with Arthur, as a meeting point for couriers. At the same time we used him on the processing of Latin American (seventeen groups unrecoverable) as a CPUSA member. We are using him here on the processing of the CBS and of the diplomatic representation of the United States in the Latin America.”
"Processing", in KGB parlance, means obtaining background information. Setaro is associated with the Council for Pan American Democracy, a group listed in the March 1948 Federal Register vol. 13 list of subversive organizations, commonly known as the Attorney General's List.
After leaving CBS Setaro was employed for a short period with Nicola Napoli by Atrkin Pictures, Inc., the sole distributing agent in the Western Hemisphere for Soviet films. In 1947 he returned to Argentina and edited a Communist newspaper.
Setaro's cover names assigned by Soviet intelligence and decyphered by NSA cryptographers are GONETS (translated means EXPRESS MESSENGER or COURIER), JEAN, and ZHAN. Setaro is referenced in the following Venona project decryptions:
764, 765 KGB New York to Moscow, 24 May 1943; 886 KGB New York to Moscow, 9 June 1943; 967–968 KGB New York to Moscow, 22 June 1943; 1234 KGB New York to Moscow, 29 August 1944; 1403 KGB New York to Moscow, 5 October 1944.
- FBI Venona file.
- Anatoly Gorsky’s December 1948 Memo on Compromised American Sources and Networks
- John Earl Haynes and Harvey Klehr, Venona: Decoding Soviet Espionage in America (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1999), pgs. 240-241.