US & Canada

US-Russia spy swap: Your comments

Ten suspected Russian spies are being moved to New York to face charges ahead of a possible prisoner swap. Reports suggest Washington may opt to deport the 10 in exchange for Russian prisoners, including nuclear scientist Igor Sutyagin. Readers of the BBC News website and have been sending their comments.


Image caption Igor Sutyagin was convicted of spying for the CIA in Russia in 2004

Translated from

Sturmflieger, Moscow, says:

I remember how just a short while ago the "democratic" press and all "democrats" were lamenting the fate of the jailed "innocent" Sutyagin and other "victims of the FSB scam". And now it is looking like the United States are quite keen getting those "victims" through a swap. And what about the strict US laws on spying and money-laundering? They are keen to swap the Russian "spies" even before they have been convicted in court. Maybe they are just afraid that in court all this nonsense about the gorgeous Chapman and the other "spies" will be exposed. I wonder whether it is wise on the part of Russia to exchange them for the not so innocent Sutyagin.

Sergey Kotov, St Petersburg, says:

There is nothing unlawful about this exchange. Sutyagin can choose - to stay in prison for breaking the Russian law or to give up Russian citizenship and be sent abroad. Actually, he made the choice between Russia and the US when he started collecting secret data and by that doing harm to Russia. He will go to his new bosses now.

Sergey Khokhlachev, St Petersburg, says:

I would suggest that instead, Russia frees its prisoners that have been put up for a swap in the next 24 hours. They could stay in Russia and with their intellect they could yet do a service to Russia. As for the agents caught in the US, I am confident that they will be released in the States too. I suspect that many of them are reluctant to be deported to Russia. They have disclosed their citizenship and real names, one can easily guess what could happen to them.

Mr Che, Russia, says:

This is quite a unique approach. To free its failed agents Russia is exchanging them for hostages from among its own people. I wonder if next time its agents are caught the FSB will just arrest random people in the streets to swap them later.

Vladimir Zontov, Moscow, says:

Image caption Sutyagin is said to be held in Moscow's Lefortovo prison

To me it looks as if the Americans have decided to secure the release of their own agents and to do so they have caught some random people who had some connection to Russia. They haven't even had time to fabricate espionage charges so they went for "money-laundering".

Dagnur, Krasnoyarsk, says:

I wonder how the people defending Sutyagin can be so sure that he is not a spy. Hundreds of Russian scientists collect open source data and publish it in foreign journals and they don't get arrested for it. I am sure that in addition to open source information Sutyagin had collected something else, that we have not been informed about for obvious reasons. As for the spy exchange - this is a normal practice and it has been in place for decades, from back in the Soviet times.

Andrey, Russia, says:

Russia should urgently secure the release of these people. If they are agents, what if one of them decides to stay and tell the Americans everything?

Yevgeny, Moscow, says:

What "swap" are we talking about? Sutyagin did not plead guilty and yet he is off to Vienna where he will be received as a martyr and a victim.


Image caption The suspects have up to now appeared in courts in different cities

Coleman Nee, Yarmouthport, MA, says:

A condition of any swap should be that Russia admits that these individuals were indeed Russians planted in the US by its intelligence service. Unless that happens, the efforts by Medvedev to gain US confidence and investments will come to nothing as the distrust will remain.

Dave Parsons, Goodyear, Arizona, says:

This is a good deal for everyone involved. But what happens to the American citizens' children? Which side initiated the swap? Does this imply that the Russian spies are who the US says they are? Perhaps there is some "quid pro quo" in this deal with Iran. Are we giving back these spies in exchange for Russia to honour and enforce sanctions? Good relations with the Russians is always a good idea. I see no downside here, so far. But the complete story isn't out yet. Keep digging, reporters.

Elan Remford, Somerset County, NJ, says:

It depends upon whether Igor Sutyagin was actually a spy of any consequence, and the relative value he might be able to offer in exchange for the ten "illegals". It seems the only worth they have been to Russia thus far is limited to the significant investment made in funding their Western existences. If Mr Sutyagin is a legitimate private citizen who has not committed a crime, his detention and prosecution should be matters for international diplomacy, not barter.

Frank, New York City, says:

Of course it would be a good idea to swap the agents. Having an understanding of the capabilities and intentions of foreign nations is something that every country engages in. In my view, it helps ensure the peace by giving all the players the piece of mind of knowing what others are up to. Lets just get the swap over with and get on to new espionage operations - you didn't expect them to end did you?

Paul, Battle Creek, says:

Last year President Obama said the cold war was over decades ago. So much for political idealism.

Tom, Boston, says:

All this effort to undermine and work against one another. Imagine if we put these resources into cooperative work. I wonder what we could accomplish?


Image caption Sutyagin's lawyer (R), mother and brother spoke to media

Dennis Harvey, Staines, UK says:

It's pretty obvious that the US wants these technically able people out of Moscow. The Russian agents arrested by the Americans appear to be small fry and would have been under CIA observance for some time with that goal in mind. On the face of it the US stands to gain big time, Russia very little. So the question is what else will the Russians get in return? There just has to be more to this.

Craig, Nottingham, UK says:

If someone has committed a crime they should face the punishment. If there was a swap it would make it political rather than judicial, and would make a mockery of the law and the whole judicial system.

Christian Lamprecht, Bratislava, Slovakia, says:

Seems a bit risky to me - any info these spies may have can then be passed on once they are back in safe hands. How do we know they were not forced to act as double agents? Surely we have to assume that those imprisoned, under whatever conditions, may have divulged more than those under better conditions. It would be a very grey area in my opinion, all depending on the sensitivity of the exchange and the level of espionage.

JG, Germany, says:

A swap seems like a good way to keep US-Russia relations cordial. The ten arrested in the US have apparently not passed on any particularly sensitive material, so the "price" of the swap to the US is not high. Sending them back to Russia now avoids the costs (to the US taxpayer) of trials and of their subsequent imprisonment. The sad aspect in this affair is that of the children. Brought up as US citizens, they may have considerable difficulty adjusting to life in Russia and are likely to resent the loss of friends and opportunities in the US, caused by their parents' choices.

Vincent Murphy, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, says:

The whole affair stinks of deep hypocrisy. The US has no moral authority to apprehend and jail foreign spies whilst still involving itself in sending spies to foreign nations. Even if this were not so, this incident should be dealt with as a charge against the Russian government by the US government, seeking the extradition of those who authorised and funded the operation. The "spies" themselves are just pawns - if there is a crime, the criminals are senior politicians and civil servants.

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