US, Russian spy chiefs negotiated transfers: report

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The top espionage chiefs of the United States and Russia handled the complex negotiations leading to the biggest spy swap since the Cold War, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday.

Leon Panetta, director of the Central Intelligence Agency, and his Moscow counterpart, led the negotiations, the report said, quoting unnamed sources close to the matter.

Ten convicted Russian agents were exchanged for four Russians convicted of spying for Western countries in a dramatic deal finalized Friday.

The deal was seen as a high-level solution to a spy scandal that threatened to disrupt improving US-Russian relations.

The 10 Russian agents, who were arrested last month, pleaded guilty Thursday and were ordered to leave the county immediately, avoiding the need for a politically embarrassing trial.

© 2010 AFP

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