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The Sutyagin Swap

I didn’t ever consider that the spy story could get any stranger … and then this comes from AFP:

Moscow is planning to release a Russian arms expert convicted of espionage in exchange for members of the alleged spy ring arrested in the United States, a lawyer said on Wednesday.

Anna Stavitskaya, lawyer for Igor Sutyagin, said he had informed his relatives that he was to be released as part of such an exchange between Moscow and Washington.

“He is going to be exchanged for the people who are being accused of espionage in the United States,” Stavitskaya told a news conference. (…)

Sutyagin’s brother Dmitry told the same news conference that Sutyagin would be transferred to Vienna, from where he would fly on to London. There was no comment on the claims from Russian authorities.

If this turns out to be true, we couldn’t be happier for Sutyagin, who has suffered for some 11 years now as a political prisoner in Russia.  However if this were a movie, the traditional spy swap would involve the trading of an arrested American citizen for the undercover spies – but instead the Russians have offered up one of their own unlawfully imprisoned citizens who should have been freed anyways.  On the US side, there appears to be big push to bury this whole case quickly and quietly before it upsets the president’s glorious diplomatic achievements – and it would be surprising to see them do it in an underhanded manner which will upset the FBI and DOJ who had worked up the case for so many years.