Spy Swap Talks Started Weeks Before Arrests
Agents' kids sent to Russia or planning to go
By M. Morris,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 9, 2010 5:25 PM CDT
A plane thought to be carrying four Russians who were convicted for spying for the West arrives at Dulles International Airport in Chantilly, Va., Friday, July 9, 2010.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
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(Newser) – The 14-person spy swap executed today at an airport in Vienna grew out of talks that started in June—weeks before the Russian spies living in the US were arrested—and the White House knew about the sleeper agents in February, reports the Washington Post. Meanwhile, the Russian agents' kids were being returned to their parents' homeland separately. "They're just children," said a US official. "Everyone feels for them. The last thing you want to do is march them out on the tarmac with their parents."

President Obama learned of the situation June 13, when a prisoner exchange was presented as a possible option. When Russian president Dmitry Medvedev visited Washington 2 weeks later, Obama didn't raise the topic, the AP reports. The US specified the four people it wanted to exchange for the 10 sleeper agents in talks led by CIA director Leon Panetta and the Russian spy chief.