Spy-swap planes land in Vienna: AFP photographer

9th July 2010, Comments 0 comments

A plane carrying 10 people who worked as Russian spies in the United States landed at Vienna airport Friday where it parked next to a Russian jet, an AFP photographer said.

The plane, bearing the identification number B762L, arrived from New York's La Guardia airport just before 0930 GMT. The 10 spies were deported from the United States after a court appearance on Thursday.

The Russian jet, with the identification number RA42446, was parked in such a way that the exit doors of both jets were invisible to photographers and camera crews at the airport.

According to unconfirmed reports, they will be exchanged for four Russian convicts in the most dramatic spy swap since the height of the Cold War.

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 four released by Russia include three men convicted of spying for the West in well-publicised cases and another more shadowy individual about whom far less is known.

The case threatened to set back improving Russia-US relations but the Russian foreign ministry said its outcome showed that the "reset" spearheaded by Presidents Barack Obama and Dmitry Medvedev was working.

© 2010 AFP

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