News / Europe

US, Russia Swap Spies


  • Senior correspondent Andre de Nesnera discusses the exchange of Russian spies

A U.S. judge has ordered 10 suspects in a Russian spy ring deported as part of a swap between the United States and Russia. Judge Kimba Wood handed down her order in New York City moments after all 10 pleaded guilty in what a federal prosecutor called a plea bargain. U.S. Justice Department officials say that in exchange for the 10, Russia will free four people that U.S. officials say were jailed for alleged contacts with Western intelligence. The four have not been identified. But Justice Department officials say three were convicted of treason. Earlier Thursday, Russian nuclear scientist Igor Sutyagin reportedly left a Moscow jail for Vienna, on his way to London.

The arrest of 10 Russians accused of spying surprised many people here in the United States, and in Russia. So many at one time.  Now, they have pleaded guilty to conspiracy to act as unregistered agents of a foreign country.

This is what one of their attorneys had to say.

"Initially, the decision to plead guilty was a very difficult one, and as I mentioned, involved numerous factors," said Robert Baum, Anna Chapman's attorney.

Shift now to halfway around the world and the focus on Russian scientist Igor Sutyagin. He was convicted six years ago of spying for the U.S.  His brother says American officials sought his release.

"From Igor's conversation with a general, it became clear that this question was being solved on the highest level, most likely with the involvement of Russian and U.S. presidents," said Igor Sutyagin' s brother, Dmitry.

One of the 10 Russians, Anna Chapman, captured the attention of many Americans with her looks and stories of her New York party lifestyle.  Her attorney and her mother expect Chapman back in Moscow on Friday.

"She didn't want to do anything bad, but she has got her parents into trouble, caused problems for the people with whom she worked and for her friends," said Anna Chapman's mother, Irina Kushchenko.

U.S. authorities say the Russians mostly lived and worked quietly in the United States for years - some raising children - while trying to gather information on U.S. nuclear weapons and politics for Russian intelligence.  

Former CIA agent Bob Baer and others in the intelligence community say they are shocked at the Russians' clandestine activities.

"The Cold War is over," said Bob Baer. "The Russians may not know it, but it's over.  We are on the same side. The fact that the FBI got in their communications is extraordinary, or to actually meet them and pretend to be Russians.  They were completely and totally compromised and this is going to cause an enormous scandal in Moscow."

Senior correspondent Andre de Nesnera discusses the exchange of Russian spies:

The last time Washington and Moscow publicly swapped prisoners was on this Berlin bridge in 1986.  Anatoly Sharansky, a famous Soviet dissident, and three other prisoners were exchanged for communist spies detained in the West.  

You May Like

Syrian Rebels Poised for Anti-Russia Collaboration

Forty-one insurgent groups issue joint statement vowing retaliation for Russian air offensives More

Political Maneuver Revives Export-Import Bank's Chances

Parliamentary tactic gets bill out of committee, but it faces opposition in the Senate More

Beijing Warns US on S. China Sea Patrols

Warning follows news reports Thursday that US military is planning to sail warships close to artificial islands Beijing has been aggressively building More

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdrawsi
Jim Malone
October 09, 2015 12:32 AM
The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

VOA Blogs