Russia wants to swap a jailed
scientist for one of the suspected spies arrested in the US, a lawyer says.
Nuclear weapons expert Igor
Sutyagin was sentenced to 15 years in prison in 2004 for spying for the West.
He was convicted of passing
classified military information to a British firm, which Russian prosecutors
claimed acted as a front for the CIA.
Sutyagin’s lawyer, Anna
Stavitskaya, said: “They (Russia) want to exchange Sutyagin for (one of)
those accused of spying in the US.
She did not know who he would be
exchanged for, but she said Sutyagin would be sent initially to Britain.
However, sources in the US suggest
that authorities there are not considering a “spy swap” so much as a
deal that would see the 10 suspects plead to lesser charges and then be deported
Such an arrangement would avoid
inflaming relations with Moscow and would also avoid disclosing details of
intelligence-gathering techniques in open court.
The news comes as the mother of the
most-high profile suspect in the US spying case, Anna Chapman, said she is
“no Mata Hari” but an average young woman.
Chapman has been branded by some as
a flame-haired femme fatale.
Her mother, Irina Kushchenko, said
she is fiercely independent and driven but never stood out as above average
among her peers.
Referring to the Dutch exotic
dancer executed by the French for espionage during World War One, Ms Kushchenko
said: “I don’t think Anna is a Mata Hari.”
FBI agents arrested 10 people last
month in the US suspected of spying for Moscow.
US authorities claimed many of the
suspects had false identity documents.
It is alleged they were part of an
network of “illegal’s” whose job was to collect sensitive information
by infiltrating policy-making circles.