Sutyagin: Spy Swap was an Honor-for-Freedom Deal

Earlier this morning my law firm, Amsterdam & Peroff, convened a panel event in London featuring Igor Sutyagin, the recently released scientist who had spent 11 years imprisoned in Russia under dubious charges of treason, and Grigory Pasko, the former political prisoner, journalist, and contributor to this blog.  I’m grateful to both Igor and Grigory for their candor and willingness to discuss their cases before a public audience, and I’d like to thank all of the attendees for their interest (some 90 people were in attendance, making it one of the most successful breakfast panels we have arranged in this series). 

There is some good coverage of the event on the UK Human Rights Blog, and below is an excerpt from an Associated Press interview with Sutyagin by Raphael Satter:

In earlier remarks to journalists and lawyers at The Lanesborough hotel in central London Tuesday, Sutyagin said his signature was part of “a very clear deal: Honor for freedom.”

But he said he also had in mind the prisoners – in both in the U.S. and in Russia – whose fate hung on his move. Describing the torment of being a prisoner, and the pain it had put its family through, he said he felt as if “my relatives were somehow imprisoned with me” and that he did not want to put other families through the same experience on a point of honor.

Sutyagin has little in the way of links to Britain – although thecompany he worked for was based in the U.K. His flight from Viennadropped him off in Britain with nothing by way of official explanation,and he told the AP he still has not made his peace with life here. Hecompared his predicament to a swimmer trapped under a sheet of ice,searching desperately for a hole through which to breathe.

“That hole would be the old Russia which I left long ago,” he said sadly.