Swapped Russian 'Spy' Wants to Go Back to Russia

Igor Sutyagin insists he was innocent, calls exile a kind of prison
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 13, 2010 8:34 AM CDT
Swapped Russian 'Spy' Wants to Go Back to Russia
In this in this April 7, 2004, file photo Igor Sutyagin, one of the four Russians recently booted from the country in a spy swap, stands behind bars as he listens to a verdict in a Moscow courtroom.   (AP Photo/File)

(Newser) – Believe it or not, Igor Sutyagin didn’t like the prisoner swap deal that freed him from the Russian prison he spent 11 years in. “It’s a very simple deal: you give your honor in exchange for your freedom,” he tells the New York Times. “If it weren’t for my family, I would have stayed.” Sutyagin spoke with the Times for seven hours, insisting he was never a spy (he was charged with treason after sending analyses gleaned from Russian newspapers and government statements to a British firm). He says he yearns to return to Russia—but has been warned by friends to stay away.

Sutyagin was released in Britain, given $3,000 and a change of clothes, and told to make his own way. At a loss, he feels he traded one prison for another. His family is still in Russia, and he's considering returning to see them, and to see if things have changed there. “My biggest dream is to wake up someday as a free man in a free country,” he says, quoting Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. “So that’s a reason for me to go back. … Because without that, my liberation is incomplete.” (Read more Igor Sutyagin stories.)

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