Russia could swap a scientist jailed for spying for the West for one of the suspected Russian agents detained in the U.S. high-profile spy scandal.
Igor Sutyagin, a Russian arms control and nuclear weapons specialist, was sentenced to 15 years in prison in Archangelsk, northwest Russia, in April 2004 for sharing state secrets with U.S. military intelligence.
Sutyagin's trial began in November 2003. The man, who formerly headed the military technology and economics department at the Institute of the United States and Canada of the Russian Academy of Sciences, was accused of passing classified information to a British firm, Alternative Futures. According to the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), Alternative Futures was a cover company for U.S. intelligence and had nothing to do with scientific activities.
The lawyer representing Sutyagin said the prisoner has been sent from the Archangelsk penitentiary to Moscow's Lefortovo prison and could later be sent to the United Kingdom.
Anna Stavitskaya said her client has agreed to the extradition to the U.K. in exchange for one of the suspected Russian spies, although he still denied committing the crime.
"He agreed [to the extradition] but he stressed that he could not have disagreed. Otherwise, his life would be ruined," Stavitskaya said.
A spokesman for the Russian Federal Penitentiary Service has refused to confirm the report on Sutyagin's transfer to Moscow saying this kind of information is secret.
The chairman of Russia's Public committee for protecting scientists, academician Yury Ryzhkov, confirmed the information. "Yesterday it became known that he [Sutyagin] was transferred from the penitentiary to Moscow and today we learned that he was sent to Lefortovo, where he held talks with high-ranking officials," Ryzhkov said citing Sutyagin's parents.
The alleged 10 members of the Russian spy ring were arrested in the United States in late June on suspicion of spying for Russia, and an 11th suspect was detained in Cyprus.
MOSCOW, July 7 (RIA Novosti)