A Cambridge couple who allegedly led a secret life as Russian spies have decided not to fight their transfer to a New York court amid news reports that a spy swap is in the works between the United States and Russia.
In a surprise hearing this morning that lasted about a minute before Magistrate Judge Marianne B. Bowler at US District Court in Boston, Donald Howard Heathfield and Tracey Lee Ann Foley waived their right to fight the transfer."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," Peter Krupp, Heathfield's lawyer, told Bowler.
"We're in the identical position here," said Robert Sheketoff, the attorney for Foley.
After the hearing, neither of the lawyers had any comment on the reports of a swap that could lead to their clients' freedom.
The Associated Press reported today from Moscow that 10 alleged Russian spies arrested in the United States in late June may be traded for a group of foreigners being held in Russia, including a man serving a prison sentence on charges of spying for the United States.
Late this afternoon, Justice Department officials said all 10 suspects are now in New York City and all will be in a Manhattan courthouse Thursday afternoon to be arraigned on a federal indictment that was unsealed earlier today.
The indictment alleged that Heathfield, as part of his duties as a spy for the Russian government, met with an unidentified US government official to discuss nuclear weapons research in 2004. It also said that Foley discussed with Heathfield "a method for sending secret messages to Moscow Center," the Russian intelligence headquarters.
After the Boston hearing, Sheketoff would only say, "This is the first step in dealing with the New York case. We're going to deal with it."
Krupp said that his clients' prime concern was "being able to support the kids and to be there for their kids. The first step in being available to their kids is getting to the jurisdiction which is prosecuting."
Tim Foley, a 20-year-old student at George Washington University, and his brother, Alex Foley, a 16-year-old at the International School of Boston, did not appear at today's hearing.
The couple also waived their right to challenge prosecutors' contention that they are the two people charged as Defendants No. 4 and No. 5 in the federal indictment against the alleged spy ring.
Prosecutor John McNeil declined to comment on the swap report, referring questions to the US attorney's office in New York.
Asked how soon the couple would be heading to New York in the custody of the US Marshals Service, he said, "I think things will evolve pretty quickly."
In contrast to their prior court appearance, in which they were wearing jail jumpsuits, Heathfield and Foley were wearing street clothes today. Heathfield wore an olive-colored Lacoste polo shirt with the collar turned up, white pants, and deck shoes, while Foley wore a sleeveless gray blouse, with a black and white print skirt and gold loafers.
The couple, who lived on Trowbridge Street in Cambridge, were arrested on June 27 at their home. They were among 11 people who allegedly infiltrated American society to spy on US policymakers. Ten were arrested in the United States; the 11th defendant was detained in Cyprus last week, but disappeared after being released on bail.
Heathfield, Foley, and the others were allegedly agents of the SVR, the foreign intelligence organ of the Russian Federation.
The charges surprised people who knew the Cambridge couple, but some said they had wondered about their accents -- they had claimed to be Canadian -- and Heathfield's penchant for networking.
Dmitry Sutyagin told the AP in Moscow that his brother Igor, who is serving a prison sentence for spying for the United States, was told he would be traded, along with a group of other convicted foreign spies, for Heathfield, Foley, and the other members of the alleged ring.
The officials met with Igor Sutyagin on Monday at a prison in Akhangelsk, in northwestern Russia, and US officials were at the meeting, his brother said. Sutyagin was later transferred to Moscow's Lefortovo prison, his brother told the news service.
The indictment was unsealed today and can be found here.
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