And like that, it was over. The seemingly ordinary men and women, who had lived in U.S. cities and suburbs for more a decade, were arrested and revealed as secret Russian agents late last month. Less than two weeks after being swept up by the FBI, the group — including a married couple living in Cambridge — were sent home to Russia in exchange for four Russian prisoners.
But before they pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges and were handed over on a Vienna airstrip, the Russian agents faced prosecution in U.S. criminal court and had regular, civilian attorneys. Those attorneys say they were caught off guard by the spy-swap as much as anybody, and that lawyers on both sides were "pawns" in what felt like the foreign policy version of a speed chess match.
As details of the stranger-than-fiction spy story continue to emerge, we get the inside story from the two attorneys who represented the Cambridge couple to learn more about them and the events that unfolded after the high-profile arrest.
What do you think? Was the exchange a carefully orchestrated charade to show the improved relationships between Russia and the United States? Or did the two nations scramble to save face after a political landmine and move quickly to quiet rumors of vestigial cold war agents?
- Robert Shekotoff, attorney for Elena Vavilova, aka Tracey Lee Ann Foley
- Peter Krupp, attorney for Andrey Bezrukov, aka Donald Heathfield