Russia and the US reportedly are working out a deal to swap spies, according to the brother of a nuclear researcher convicted of spying in Russia. It's a tactic honed during the cold war.
If that turns out to be the case, it means the US and Russia are resorting to a tactic honed during the cold war that often served as a means to ease tensions raised by high-profile espionage cases.
The exchange of spy prisoners allowed both sides to save face while admitting very little about what espionage activities may, or may not, have taken place. It preserved the lives and freedom of valuable intelligence assets. Such swaps also added to the sense that cold-war spying was a game – a game with high stakes, carried out with few rules, but a game nonetheless.
On Wednesday, Russian citizen Dmitry Sutyagin said that his brother Igor, who is serving a 14-year sentence after being convicted in 2004 of spying for the US, has been moved from a prison in Russia’s northwest to Moscow. Igor Sutyagin has been forced to sign a confession but has been told he will be set free in exchange for at least some of the Russians now in US custody, according to his brother.
Igor Sutyagin has also been shown a list of 11 other people in Russian jails who may be part of the exchange.
In Alexandria, Va., a scheduled court hearing for three of the Russian spy suspects was abruptly cancelled. US officials declined comment, but the public schedule of Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns listed a meeting with the Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislak.