Spy row won’t affect Russia-US ties: Putin

June 30th, 2010 - 9:22 pm ICT by IANS  

Barack Obama Moscow, June 30 (IANS/RIA Novosti) Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin expressed the hope that the arrests of 10 Russians for spying on the US will not hamper diplomatic ties between the two countries.
“I hope the positive developments that have accumulated recently will not be damaged,” Putin said during his meeting with visiting ex-US President Bill Clinton Tuesday.

The comments came two days after 10 Russian nationals were arrested Sunday by American intelligence officials who accused them of running a spy ring against the US.

The arrest comes less than a week after Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and President Barack Obama signalled the end of the Cold War with a burger lunch in Washington.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov though admitted Tuesday that they were “Russian citizens who found themselves on US territory at different times”. However, he said, “They have not committed any actions directed against US interests”.

Russia also expressed hope that the accused would be “well treated while in custody” and that US authorities would grant Russian lawyers access to them.

The US Department of Justice said Monday that those arrested had been charged as “unlawful agents of the Russian Federation within the United States”.

US authorities said the arrest was “the result of a multi-year investigation conducted by the FBI, the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, the Counterespionage Section and the Office of Intelligence within the Justice Department’s National Security Division”.

Some of the suspects had been under surveillance since January and part of their correspondence with Moscow had been intercepted and decoded.

“You were sent to USA for long-term service trip. Your education, bank accounts, car, house etc - all these serve one goal: fulfil your main mission - to search and develop ties in policymaking circles in the US and send intels,” one of the intercepted messages allegedly said.

The documents submitted by the FBI in court said some of the suspects were in contact with Russian “state officials”, including diplomats from Russia’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York from 2004 to the beginning of 2010.

–IANS/RIA Novosti

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