Russian convicts 'to be transferred to US': foreign ministry

9th July 2010, Comments 0 comments

The four Russian convicts pardoned by President Dmitry Medvedev as part of a dramatic spy exchange are to be handed over to the United States, the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement.

The four, three of whom are confirmed as convicted spies, are being freed as part of an exchange that saw the expulsion of 10 Russian agents from the United States.

The Russian foreign ministry in a statement said the deal involved the "return to Russia of 10 Russian citizens accused in the United States, along with the simultaneous transfer to the United States of four individuals previously condemned in Russia."

The 10 pleaded guilty in a New York federal court to acting as illegal agents for Moscow and were ordered expelled from the United States, never to return.

The foreign ministry gave no further details on the mechanics of the exchange but praised the deal as being in line with the reset in relations spearheaded by Presidents Dmitry Medvedev and Barack Obama.

"This action was carried out in the general context of the improvement in Russia-US relations," it said.

"The current agreement gives us reason to believe that the course agreed by the leadership of Russia and the United States will be realised in practice and attempts to divert the sides from this course will not meet with success."

© 2010 AFP

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