MOSCOW (CBS/AP) Russia and the United States are working out a spy swap involving members of the alleged Russian spy ring recently busted in the United States and people convicted of spying in Russia, the brother of an imprisoned nuclear researcher said Wednesday.
Officials from both the United States and Russia refused to comment on the report, but Dmitry Sutyagin said he had plenty of details on the swap from his brother Igor, who is serving a 14-year prison sentence on charges of spying for the United States.
Igor Sutyagin was told by Russian officials on Monday that he and other convicted spies are to be exchanged for the Russians arrested by the FBI last month, his brother said. U.S. officials were also at the meeting held at a prison in Arkhangelsk, in northwestern Russia, his brother said.
Sutyagin said he was forced to sign a confession, although he maintains his innocence and does not want to leave Russia, his homeland, his brother said. After the meeting, Sutyagin was transferred to Moscow's Lefortovo prison, his brother said.
Sutyagin was arrested in 1999 and convicted in 2004 on charges of passing information on nuclear submarines and missile-warning systems to a British company that investigators claimed was a CIA cover.
According to his brother, Sutyagin said the Russian officials had shown him a list of 11 people to be included in the swap. The brother said Sutyagin only remembered one other person on the list - Sergei Skripal - a Russian army colonel who in 2006 was sentenced to 13 years on charges of spying for Britain.
The Russian Foreign Ministry and the Federal Penitentiary Service said they had no comment on the claim and a spokesman for the U.S. Embassy was not immediately available for comment.
In Washington, both FBI spokesman William Carter and the State Department declined to comment. However, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns, a former American ambassador to Moscow, had a Wednesday meeting scheduled with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. Officials declined to comment on the reason for the meeting.
On June 27, the United States arrested 10 people in an alleged spy ring that prosecutors say for the last decade has engaged in secret global travel with false passports, secret code words, fake names, invisible ink and encrypted radio. The spies were allegedly trying to obtain information about American business, scientific and political affairs. They have been charged with acting as unregistered foreign agents.