Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Possible Spy Exchange Between Russia & US

Via BBC -

A prisoner swap is being planned to bring 10 suspected Russian spies back from the US, according to reports from Russia.

A man jailed in Russia for spying for the CIA said he and unspecified others would be exchanged, his family said.

Igor Sutyagin was quoted as saying he expected to be put on flights to Vienna, then London, on Thursday.

Neither the Russian nor the US authorities have commented on reports of the swap.

In a move which fuelled speculation about an imminent swap, a top US diplomat met the Russian ambassador to Washington.

No details were given of the talks between Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns, who is a former US ambassador to Moscow, and Ambassador Sergei Kislyak.

Also on Wednesday, a court hearing in Virginia for three of the suspected Russian spies was postponed and orders were issued to transport them "promptly to the Southern District of New York for further proceedings".

No reason has yet been given for the transfer to New York, where the other seven suspects are in custody.


On Wednesday, the New York Times quoted sources close to the case as saying the federal government was seeking a rapid resolution.


Igor Sutyagin, a nuclear weapons specialist, is serving a 15-year jail sentence for passing information to a UK firm allegedly used as a front by the CIA.

According to his brother, Dmitry, he said he had been told by Russian officials that he would be released and sent to the UK in exchange for an unknown number of spies.

The officials met Sutyagin on Monday at a prison in Arkhangelsk, northern Russia, and US officials were at the meeting, the brother said.

Sutyagin said he had been made to sign a confession, although he maintains his innocence and does not want to leave Russia, his brother added.

After Monday's meeting, the prisoner was reportedly moved to Moscow's Lefortovo prison.


Russian media quote a member of Sutyagin's family as saying he had seen a list of names of prisoners likely to be swapped by Russia, including Sergei Skripal.

Skripal is a Russian military intelligence (GRU) officer convicted of spying for the UK in 2006.

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