A Boston-area couple accused of being secret agents for the Russian government waived their right Wednesday to hearings in Boston and were transferred to New York amid reports that the U.S. and Russia were working on a spy swap.
During a hastily scheduled hearing in U.S. District Court, Donald Heathfield and his wife, Tracey Lee Ann Foley, of Cambridge, waived their rights to identity and detention hearings in Boston.
"My client would like to go to New York to face the charges which are pending against them there. He'd like to do that as fast as he can," said Heathfield's attorney, Peter Krupp.
"We are in the exact same position," said Foley's lawyer, Robert Sheketoff.
Heathfield and Foley were among 11 people arrested last month in a probe of what prosecutors say was a long-term Russian effort to infiltrate U.S. policymaking circles.
Their lawyers would not comment when asked whether their decision not to fight their transfer to New York was the first step in a spy swap deal. Assistant U.S. Attorney John McNeil also declined to comment and referred all questions to the U.S. attorney's office in New York.
In Washington, the third-ranking U.S. diplomat, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns, a former American ambassador to Moscow, had a Wednesday morning meeting scheduled with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. Officials declined to comment on the reason for the meeting.
Earlier, the brother of a man serving a 14-year prison sentence in Russia for alleged spying told reporters in Moscow that the United States and Russia were working on a spy swap.
Dmitry Sutyagin said his brother Igor, who is serving a 14-year prison sentence on charges of spying for the United States, was told by Russian officials that he was included in a group of other convicted foreign spies who are to be exchanged for the Russians arrested by the FBI last month.
Heathfield's lawyer, Peter Krupp, said the spy charges have been "an ordeal" for the couple and their two children, Alex, 16, and Tim, 20.
"Their No. 1 priority has been their kids," said Krupp, who would not say where the two children are now.
When asked why they were being transferred to New York, Krupp said, "The case is pending in New York, and so to the extent that they can expedite things, get down to New York and deal with the case, it will help them be as supportive as they can with their kids, and if they can resolve the case, great."
This program aired on July 7, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.