Ten individuals pleaded guilty today in Manhattan Federal Court to conspiring to act as unlawful agents within the United States on behalf of the Russian Federation. As part of their plea agreements, those defendants operating in the United States under false identities disclosed their true Russian identities. Each of the defendants also agreed to be immediately expelled from the United States.
The United States and the Russian Federation agreed that the United States would transfer these individuals abroad and turn them over to Russian authorities. The Russian Federation, in turn, would release four individuals incarcerated in the Russian Federation.
This case is the result of a multi-year investigation conducted by the Department of Justice. The network of unlawful agents operating inside the United States has been dismantled. A determination to seek a rapid and comprehensive solution was made on national security and humanitarian grounds. No significant national security benefit would be gained from the prolonged incarceration in the United States of these ten unlawful agents. The United States took advantage of the opportunity presented to secure the release of four individuals serving lengthy prison terms in Russia, several of whom were in poor health.
There is a bit more at ABC News, including a focus on the children involved:
The U.S. and Russia have agreed to the first swap of accused spies in 24 years, and the exchange will begin to take place by the end of Thursday, according to U.S. officials and lawyers for the suspects.
-- snip --
As the U.S. and Russian governments scramble to put together a huge spy swap before the 10 accused Russian spies are arraigned this afternoon, the children in the middle are caught in a very real chess game being played out between the two countries.
"That's the most unfortunate aspect of this," said Jeffrey Burds, a professor of Russian history at Northeastern University. "I cannot imagine a scenario in which the children, however smart they were, would have been clued in as to the existence of or the nature of their parents' relations."
I'm not so sure the kids are really caught in the middle here, or that any of them will try to stay in the U.S. Let's not overlook that one of the deportees - Anna Chapman (AKA Natasha Fatale) - is a second-generation Russian Intelligence Service officer. As a child, she presumably benefited from her father's overseas assignments to become acculturated to the West, and that no doubt facilitated her assignment as an illegal in New York.
I'll go out on a limb and wager that some of the children heading to Mother Russia tonight will be back someday. I don't suppose anyone managed to get their fingerprints or a DNA sample?