Three alleged members of a Russian spy ring go before court on Wednesday, accused of operating deep under cover for the Kremlin in the United States since the 1990s.They are accused of "conspiring to act as secret agents in the United States on behalf of the Russian Federation," the formal indictment said.
Moves to gather all the alleged spies together in New York came as the Russian and US governments were said to be planning a spy swap deal to avoid potentially embarrassing and diplomatically damaging court battles.
Russian lawyer Anna Stavitskaya told a press conference in Moscow that her client Igor Sutyagin, jailed in 2004 on charges of spying for the CIA, had been told he would be released as part of the swap.
Neither Russia nor the United States wants the case to damage relations and both have a stake in avoiding a prolonged trial that could expose sensitive information to a global media glare.
Formal charges laid against alleged Russia spies [Channel NewsAsia, 8 July 2010]
US, Russia planning to exchange spies: lawyer [Channel NewsAsia, 8 July 2010]