Russian spy calls family from Britain after swap

Russian nuclear expert Igor Sutyagin contacted his family by telephone Saturday from Britain, a day after participating in a spectacular spy swap between Russia and the US, the Interfax news agency reported.

Last Updated: Jul 11, 2010, 00:24 AM IST

Moscow/Washington: Russian nuclear expert Igor Sutyagin contacted his family by telephone Saturday from Britain, a day after participating in a spectacular spy swap between Russia and the US, the Interfax news agency reported.

The 45-year-old is staying in a small town near London, shielded from the public, his brother Dmitry was quoted as saying.

Sutyagin was one of four spies who were flown from the Austrian capital Vienna to Britain after the exchange on Friday. He had spent 11 years in a northern Russian penal camp for, among other things, supplying secret submarine documents to a British company.

Sutyagin left the plane in Britain along with another spy, before the aircraft continued on to the US with the two remaining agents, media outlets both in Russia and the US reported.

According to the Washington Post newspaper, the two men who arrived in the US were double agents Alexander Zaporozhsky and Gennadi Vasilenko.

That would leave Sergei Skripal, who had been convicted of spying in Russia for the British secret service, as the second man who unboarded the plane in Britain.

Another aircraft carrying 10 Russian spies who were handed over by the US in Vienna landed at a Moscow airport on Friday. A White House official said that all the spies` children had also left the US or were about to.

The swapped agents were scrupulously shielded from the public eye after their arrivals both in Russia and the US.

The widely publicised event, which amounted to the biggest spy swap in decades between Washington and Moscow, had nearly failed, Russian media reported Saturday.

After the names of the four Western spies were revealed in Russian newspapers, the US had almost given up on the deal, a Russian secret service agent told the daily Moskovsky Komzomolez.

Sutyagin had also "screamed hysterically" at a decisive meeting with secret agents in Moscow that he would not sign a confession, the agent said.

Only when he was told that the US wanted to exchange him as a CIA agent, did Sutyagin reluctantly agree.

According to US media, Washington had had the idea of exchanging the spies two weeks before the 10 Russian agents were arrested.

Immediately after their arrest at the end of June, Moscow received a list of people that the US wanted in exchange, the media reported.

The agreement also included promises not to take retaliatory action such as expulsions.

IANS