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9 Jul, 2010 13:32

Ten agents arrive in Moscow after spy swap with US

An aircraft carrying ten people deported from the US for illegal activities landed in Moscow’s Domodedovo airport at 17:30 local time on Friday.

The group was delivered to Vienna from New York City by a charter flight. In Vienna they were exchanged for four people convicted of espionage in Russia, and from Vienna they were taken to Moscow by an aircraft belonging to the Russian Emergencies Ministry.

The deportees were arrested in the US on June 27. Eight of them were arrested for allegedly carrying out long-term assignments for the Russian government. The two others were arrested the same day for allegedly participating in the same intelligence collecting operation. One more suspected agent was detained in Cyprus, but the authorities released him on bail and he fled. His fate and whereabouts are unknown.

Adrian Pabst, a political science professor at the University of Kent, is sure that Obama will face Republican criticism after this deal.

“Republicans could say that President Obama is naïve, that he’s trying to forge better relations with Russia,” he said. “But I don't think a protected court case would have helped the US – in fact, having ten spies or ten accused spies in court in the States talking about activities would have been far more damaging for President Obama and also for President Medvedev.”