Russian agents quizzed at special compound: report
The 10 Russian agents deported to Moscow in a sensational spy swap with Washington are being held in a special secret service compound and still being debriefed, a report said Tuesday.
The report in the Moskovsy Komsomolets daily said that the 10, including the glamorous Anna Chapman who became a tabloid celebrity, were not allowed to leave the compound owned by the Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR).
There has been sharp criticism in the Russian press and by ex-agents of their spycraft, notably their use of social networking sites and apparently archaic techniques like invisible ink.
"At the current time the agents are working with specialists," the report quoted a source in the Russian special services as saying
"They are trying to clarify how their cover could have been blown in such situations."
They would be released in the next few weeks, so long as the probe showed that serious errors had not been committed in their work as agents in the United States, the report said.
"For clarifying all the details, interviews are being carried out along with different kinds of tests which include lie-detectors," the source told Moskovsky Komsomolets.
"This should not be called an interrogation in the true sense of the word. But if it turns out that serious mistakes were made, spies, employees of the SVR, can be fired."
The report said that mobile phones did not work at the compound and the agents were not allowed to leave. However they were being supplied with all necessities.
Immediately after landing in Moscow on Friday, the 10 were taken to SVR headquarters in Yasenevo outside Moscow but exactly where they were being questioned now was not clear, it said.
The arrest of the agents sparked fears that the espionage scandal could harm improving ties with Washington, but Friday's spy exchange appeared aimed at limiting any damage.
Some of the agents had been working as deep cover "sleepers" for as much as a decade although Chapman had gone to the United States more recently.
© 2010 AFP