The largest Russia-U.S. spy exchange since the Cold War appeared to be underway on Thursday. The two countries worked out a deal to trade suspected Russian spies for American agents currently being held in Russia.
Ten of the 11 people accused of being Russian spies could soon be deported from the U.S. An 11th suspect is presently at large after jumping bail in Cyprus.
Five suspects charged with spying have been ordered to New York to join five others already behind bars. Lawyers for the suspects said they hoped for an immediate resolution for their clients.
Researcher Igor Sutyagin is among those set to be released in exchange for members of the spy ring discovered in the U.S. He worked as an arms control and military analyst at the Moscow-based U.S.A. and Canada Institute. He was arrested in 1999 and convicted in 2004 for passing information on weapons to a British company that officials claimed was a CIA cover.
According to State Department spokesman Mark Toner, the spy exchange was brokered after a series of meetings between Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and the U.S. third-ranking diplomat, William Burns at Kislyak's residence in Washington, D.C.
"Did the case, the spy case come up? Likely, it did. Am I going to get into the details? No," Toner said.
Fate of Spies' Families Uncertain
But a brokered trade would appear to be complicated. Some of the spies and their spouses -- like Peruvian born Vicky Pelaez, who has remained under house arrest - aren't Russian and don't want to go to Russia.
Pelaez's lawyer John Rodriguez has said that she wants to appear in court and has absolutely no interest in going to Russia.
"As far as I know she would have absolutely no desire to go to Russia," Rodriguez said.
The fate of the children of the accused spy Cynthia Murphy, who lived in Montclair, N.J., has yet to be determined. They are U.S.-born citizens and attend grade school. The children have no connection to Russia.
The last spy swap took place between the two countries 24 years ago.