Russian expert in spy swap resurfaces near London: family

10th July 2010, Comments 0 comments

Igor Sutyagin, an arms expert flown out of Russia in the spy swap with Washington, is at a hotel near London without a visa and still wearing his Russian prison clothes, his brother said Saturday.

"Igor called his wife, he said he was in a small town near London," Sutyagin's brother Dmitry told AFP.

In a phone call which lasted only a few minutes, Sutyagin told his wife Irina he was somewhere near London but could not be more specific about his location.

Sutyagin was with another of the four Russians convicted of spying for the West who were exchanged at Vienna Airport on Friday for 10 Kremlin agents in the biggest spy swap since the Cold War, said Dmitry Sutyagin.

He added he did not know the name of the second man who was with his brother.

This week Igor Sutyagin was unexpectedly transferred from his prison in the Russian Far North to the Lefortovo high-security jail in Moscow and granted a meeting with his family, before being put onto a plane out of Russia.

Dmitry Sutyagin, speaking later in the day on Russia's popular Echo of Moscow radio, said his brother could not leave the hotel as he did not have a British visa and was still wearing his Russian prison outfit.

"He was taken to Britain in his prison uniform which he had on while in Lefortovo," he said.

He said his brother was set on Monday to meet with British officials who would decide his future.

Convicted of handing over classified information to a British company that Russia claimed was a CIA cover and sentenced to 15 years in jail, Sutyagin for 11 years denied he was a spy, saying the information came from open sources.

The plane that on Friday took the four out of the country reportedly made a brief stop at the Brize Norton air base in central England before landing in the United States.

According to British media reports, Sutyagin and Sergei Skripal, a former colonel with Russian military intelligence GRU convicted of spying for Britain, were dropped off in Britain.

British authorities declined to comment on Sutyagin's whereabouts and fate on Saturday.

"We wouldn't comment about anything about this story at all. There's no way we could confirm that," said a Home Office spokesman.

"We don't comment on matters of intelligence or security and we don't comment on individual asylum claims".

A Foreign Office spokesman also declined comment, saying: "We don't comment on intelligence matters".

© 2010 AFP

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