Russian's Release Would End Controversial Spy Case

A Russian analyst accused of spying for the United States was reportedly flown to Vienna on Thursday in a complicated Russia-U.S. spy swap. The release of Igor Sutyagin, a former arms control researcher at a Moscow think tank, would end one of Russia's most controversial espionage cases.

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If the group is deported from the U.S. and headed for Russia, our Moscow correspondent David Greene will be ready to report on their arrival.

DAVID GREENE: There's already speculation about Anna Chapman's return. The news website Gazeta.ru quoted unnamed sources saying Chapman will land in Russia's capital incognito in the dark of night.

Russians for the most part have shrugged at the spy scandal. They considered it odd timing for a spy roundup after Russian President Dmitry Medvedev was just in Washington smiling with President Obama. The news media has been obsessed.

Today, reporters swarmed to Lefortovo prison in Moscow. That was the temporary holding spot for Igor Sutyagin, who, as my colleague, Dina, just told you, appears on his way to freedom. His release would end one of Russia's most controversial espionage cases.

Sutyagin was a young arms control researcher at a Moscow think tank, the U.S.A.-Canada Institute. Russian officials arrested him in 1999 saying he passed secrets to a British company with CIA ties.

Sutyagin always denied being a spy. His mother, Svetlana, visited him yesterday. Today, in an interview, she said her son had to sign a confession before any swap.

Ms. SVETLANA SUTYAGINA: (Speaking foreign language)

GREENE: Our officials, they've been waiting so long for the chance to say: Aha. You see, he's admitted it, she said. But he wasn't guilty, and he won't ever be. Sutyagin's mother suggested her son would prefer a life of freedom in Russia. All this was forced, she said. He's been pushed out of the country. This is what saddens him.

David Greene, NPR News, Moscow.

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