How Many Will Agree to Spy Swap?
The spy swap deal seems to be moving along quickly. In Russia, Igor Sutyagin, a former military analyst jailed for spying for the CIA, has already agreed, according to his mother and lawyer. They said Sutyagin, who has already been moved from his Siberian prison to Moscow, had to sign a confession (he's always maintained his innocence) and will be flown from Moscow to Vienna to London. Great Britain has agreed to take him in. On Tuesday, the Russians gave him a passport.
Some of the lawyers for those held in the U.S. have confirmed their clients have been offered a swap deal to return to Russia. What happens to Vicky Peleaz, an American citizen from Peru? I can't imagine she'd want to go to Russia.
Ms. Pelaez's attorney, John M. Rodriguez, said the Russian government called his office Tuesday and asked whether he thought his client would be open to the possible swap. He said he told the Russian government that he didn't believe his client would be open to that. A U.S. official familiar with the matter said Ms. Pelaez would likely have to face a court trial if she didn't agree to be part of the proposed swap.
If one goal of this spy swap is to prevent all the dirty laundry from coming out, it's hard to believe the U.S. would proceed to trial on Pelaez. I would think they would offer her a deal for little or no time, especially since her alleged involvement appears to be minimal.
While Pelaez was granted bond by the Magistrate Court Judge, the U.S. has asked for a new hearing before the District Court Judge, Kimba Wood, which will be held Friday.
If she's released on bond, she'll be in no hurry to make any deals, and will press for discovery, which the Government may not want to provide, as details are likely to show up in her pre-trial motions. Perhaps they'd just drop the charges against her.
On the other hand, if Judge Wood reverses the bond decision, and she's likely to be in pre-trial detention for a year or so while the case proceeds, she may be willing to plead to a minor crime. (The case undoubtedly will be declared complex, which means ordinary speedy trial limits will be extended.)
It's hard to envision the U.S. would want to devote the necessary time and resources to just prosecuting her, if the others have all left for Russia. Nor does it want the details released.
Ana Chapman's lawyer told the Wall St. Journal her deal would likely be finalized tomorrow. Sounds like she'll sign anything that will get her out of what her lawyer calls ""odious" detention."
Question: What happens to the kids? More on them here. The Moscow Times article says Sutyagin was told he could take one family member with him to England. I would imagine the Russia has agreed to take not only the defendants here, but all their children. Still, will the kids who have known nothing other their suburban life styles in the U.S. be forced to choose between moving to Russia or staying with relatives in the U.S. and never seeing their parents? Other than Pelaez, who is a U.S. citizen, the other parents may not have the choice of turning down Russia to stay here, even if it means some time in prison.
One other thing I don't like about the case: The Government is pressuring the defendant to make a choice about the swap before they've seen any of the evidence against them, other than a few affidavits and the Indictment. Before pleading guilty and taking a deal, lawyers at first like to make sure the Government has the evidence to convict them at trial. These are serious decisions the defendants are being forced to consider. I'd want to to see the evidence first, and it doesn't sound like there will be time for that.
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