A nidus of spies in our midst "some say, "ahhh, let'm go." "What harm can they do," we don't feel threatened by the Russians now, even with espionage agents "working" in America. And, "Prison would be another expense for us." "Just get rid of them. Send they back."
Incarcerated since 1999, after Dr. Sutyagin was arrested in Russia on charges of treason. Sutyagin, a physicist, readily agrees he gave information to a group of Americans in London - physicists talk about their work to other physicists - but none of the content was classified nor secret, only taken from science journals and previously reported media news or lectures.
Igor Sutyagin wanted the public to know. It seems the Russians, under their former KGB Colonel leader, Vladimir Putin, have not entirely modernized from their old Cold War ways. Of the four Russian prisoners who have been released in exchange for the coven of ten Russians living under "replaced" identities in the U.S., only Igor Sutyagin was not an avowed espionage agent for the West (or for the East). See: http://www.sutyagin.org for a history of the Igor's case, compiled by his brother Dmitry.
Family and friends have been very pro-active, while Igor continually stated he wanted as many people to know about his case as possible. He wanted to go public, and has consistently maintained his innocence. Only at the last minute did he agree to "confess" "or not board the plane out of Russia. Visit this "NPR" article and take special note of the collection of photographs, http://www.npt.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=128376619 of the infamous Lefortovo Prison before the four prisoners left.
Surely, it was not a wise judgment for the Russian government to pack a brilliant scientist, who could have been so productive all these 11 years, off to various high security prisons, sometimes in solitary confinement (once for trying to talk to his family on a cell phone). More recently Igor was placed in Archangelsk, a notorious penal institution on an island, known for its bitter winters, the place riddled with tuberculosis. The name itself is an appalling insult to the Russian State religion - "Archangel."
The West got 4, while Russia got back 10 - are the 4 more valuable, one might be tempted to ask, however in a RIA Novosti article http://en.rian.ru/world/20100709/159752926.html President Medvedev has pardoned an additional 16 inmates.
Some years ago, after Igor Sutyagin was convicted in 2004, I communicated with Dmitry, Igor's brother. We talked about what I could do to help; we spoke of me writing a book about Igor's experiences, hoping that would help the family financially. But we did not want to incur retaliation; one must fight but not too obviously. I wrote articles and spoke with various individuals Igor knew. Various human rights groups have spoken out on this miscarriage of justice - Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, see: http://www.google.com/search?q=Amnesty+International:+Igor+sutyagin&hl=en&rlz=1T4GZHY_enUS238US238&prmd=no&source=univ&tbs=nws:1&tbo=u&ei=nIA3TMLcC5SmsQP_kexR&sa=X&oi=news_group&ct=title&resnum=1&ved=0CCEQsQQwAA . Reminiscent of the Cold old days, there can be fears of reprisals, always an authoritarian heavy hand and the lack of logic in Russian Law.
Russian law still exercises double jeopardy - it's good that Dr. Sutyagin has now left Russia. An example to the opposite is the case of Valentin Danilov http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valentin_Danilov , whose story also began in 1999, and like Sutyagin, was arrested for passing information (to China) that was not classified. Danilov was acquitted by a jury in 2003. Similarities in the two cases ended in 2004 when Danilov was recharged, found guilty in a secret trial and sentenced to 14 years in prison.
After the "end" of the Cold War, Russia has made strides toward bringing their legal system more in line with the West - more fair and more logical - but accused Russians still feel insecure about their civil and human rights - a multiple understatement. Note a quote from Amnesty International regarding these procedures which seem more common place than the exception, http://www.big bureaucracy.com .
Also of note, Valentine Danilova is so far not one of those named for release.
Obtaining information - One theory regarding Dr. Sutyagin's incarceration is that prison was not just for punishment, that it was more a matter of protection for Russia - it wasn't only that he sold or gave information away, but rather that he was skilled in obtaining information from open sources, and he wanted to "share." The Institute white paper http://www.iskran.ru/engl/index-en.html states they use this collection and analysis of information as "the means to promote stability," for Russia.
What happens next for Igor Sutyagin. He is being debriefed after his transfer to Vienna and then London. Right now, it is 12 Noon Pacific Time, Jul 11, 2010; the article says "2 hours ago," from London via Taiwan and many time zones later, http://www.etaiwannews.com/etn/news_content.php?id=1315901 ©=eng_news " Igor was allowed to call his wife, Irina. His brother Dmitry says Igor was given an international calling card but without return call privileges. Igor told her he was at a British hotel, in a location unknown to him.