The 10 people accused by the Justice Department of being spies for the Russian government were swapped for supposed American spies detained in Russia at an airport in Vienna, Austria. The NY Times reports, "Planes carrying 10 convicted Russian sleeper agents and 4 men accused by Moscow of spying for the West swooped into the Austrian capital, once a hub of clandestine East-West maneuvering, and the men and women were transferred, the Justice Department said. The planes soon took off again in a coda fitting of an espionage novel."

The spies are in Moscow now, but yesterday afternoon, the alleged spies were in Manhattan federal court. They each pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to act as an agent of a foreign government within the United States without notifying the U.S. Attorney General. According to the DOJ, they were forced to admit their real identities:

The defendants known as “Richard Murphy” and “Cynthia Murphy” admitted they are Russian citizens named Vladimir Guryev and Lydia Guryev and are agents of the Russian Federation. Defendants “Michael Zottoli” and “Patrica Mills” admitted they are Russian citizens named Mikhail Kutsik and Natalia Pereverzeva, and are agents of the Russian Federation. Defendants “Donald Howard Heathfield” and “Tracey Lee Ann Foley” admitted they are Russian citizens named Andrey Bezrukov and Elena Vavilova, and are agents of the Russian Federation. “Juan Lazaro” admitted that he is a Russian citizen named Mikhail Anatonoljevich Vasenkov and is an agent of the Russian Federation.

The defendants Vicky Pelaez, Anna Chapman and Mikhail Semenko, who operated in this country under their true names, admitted that they are agents of the Russian Federation; and Chapman and Semenko admitted they are Russian citizens.


Peleaz, who was a columnist for the Spanish daily El Diario, is married to Lazaro/Vasenkov. Her lawyer told the Daily News that she demanded of Lazaro, "What's your name? What's your real name?" Peleaz "knew something" was up but "did not know the extent of it"; she allegedly ferried letters written by her husband in invisible ink to Peru and returned with cash. Her and Lazaro/Vasenkov's 17-year-old son, Juan, will be staying in the U.S., as will her older son, Waldo Mariscal, from a previous marriage. Her lawyer said, "For someone who loves their family so much - this is the ultimate loss. She did the least [of the spies], and paid the most."

The News reports, "The Russian government has promised her free housing, paid expenses, a $2,000-a-month stipend for life and plane tickets for her sons to come visit." It's believed that similar offers were made to the other spies. The other spies' young children were sent to Russia ahead of their parents; a U.S. official said, "The decision was made early on, they're just children. Everyone feels for them. The last thing you want to do is march them out on the tarmac with their parents" as television cameras record the exchange. "That's just not a very nice thing to do."

The British government is considering whether to revoke the British passport of Anna Chapman, a Russian national who married a chatty British citizen. Chapman's mother, Irina Kushchenk, says her daughter is no "Mata Hari," and is reportedly considering suing the Western press for publishing all the social networking photographs of her party girl daughter.