US and Russia reach agreement on ‘spy exchange’

July 8, 2010 20:37

The US is deporting 10 people who spied for Moscow in exchange for four people convicted of espionage in Russia. A judge in New York ordered the immediate deportation of the 10 after they pleaded guilty to spying for a foreign country. More serious money laundering charges against them were dropped.

BBC News

Russian news reports say President Dmitry Medvedev has pardoned the four Russian prisoners.

State news agency Itar-Tass named them as:

  • Igor Sutyagin, a nuclear scientist jailed in 2004 for spying for the CIA
  • Sergei Skripal, a Russian military intelligence officer convicted of spying for the UK in 2006
  • Alexander Zaporozhsky, a former employee of Russia’s foreign intelligence service jailed for espionage in 2003
  • Gennadiy Vasilenko

Mr Medvedev’s spokeswoman, Natalia Timakova, was quoted that all four had submitted a plea for pardon admitting their guilt.


The 10 Russian agents are expected to arrive in Moscow on Friday morning on a flight from the US.

Their New York court appearance was the first time they had all appeared in public together since being arrested last month.

They pleaded guilty to “conspiracy to act as an unregistered agent of a foreign country”.

Prosecutors said the accused had posed as ordinary citizens, some living together as couples for years, and were ordered by Russia’s External Intelligence Service (SVR) to infiltrate policy-making circles and collect information.

BBC Washington correspondent Kevin Connolly says there is broad agreement in the US that the agents are being deported swiftly because neither government wants this to damage attempts to reset their often prickly relationship.

He also says it is the inessential details which will stick in the mind, such as the revelation that one of the pairs of agents who married seem to have argued with Moscow over whether they would be allowed to own the house they lived in as part of that cover story.

Court documents revealed – apparently for the first time – the real names of five of the Russians involved:

  • “Richard Murphy” and “Cynthia Murphy” admitted they were Russian citizens named Vladimir Guryev and Lydia Guryev
  • “Donald Howard Heathfield” and “Tracey Lee Ann Foley” admitted they were Russian citizens named Andrey Bezrukov and Elena Vavilova
  • “Juan Lazaro” admitted that he was a Russian citizen named Mikhail Vasenkov

“Michael Zottoli” and “Patrica Mills” had admitted earlier they were Russian citizens named Mikhail Kutsik and Natalia Pereverzeva, Anna Chapman and Mikhail Semenko had apparently operated in the US under their own names, while Vicky Pelaez was born in Peru.

An 11th suspect known as “Christopher Metsos” went missing after being released on bail in Cyprus, where he had been arrested.

Moved to Moscow

The US state department said after the hearing that there would be “no significant national security benefit” in sentencing the 10 to lengthy jail terms.


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