Profile: Russian spies released

The prisoners Russia swapped for 10 spies in the US include a nuclear specialist who has always protested his innocence and a former secret agent said to have betrayed numerous colleagues in the US.

The prisoners, who were convicted of foreign espionage in Russia, were all pardoned by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.

IGOR SUTYAGIN

Igor Sutyagin (2004 picture) Sutyagin maintained his innocence

Sutyagin is a nuclear specialist convicted of passing information about submarine and missile systems to a UK firm allegedly used as a front by the CIA.

He was serving his 15-year sentence in the Arkhangelsk region of northern Russia near the Arctic Circle when he was suddenly transferred to Moscow's high-security Lefortovo prison, where he told his family and lawyer he was part of a spy swap. He has spent 11 years in prison.

Sutyagin was arrested in 1999 in his home town of Obninsk, central Russia, and charged with treason.

His first trial broke down and he was not convicted until 2004.

He has always maintained his innocence and human rights activists have argued he had no access to secrets and openly worked with foreign academics.

Before his arrest he had been a military policy expert at Moscow's prestigious USA-Canada Institute.

SERGEI SKRIPAL

Sergei Skripal speaks to his lawyer in a Moscow courtroom, file pic from 2006 Prosecutors said Skripal began working for MI6 in the 1990s

The retired Russian military intelligence (GRU) colonel was sentenced in 2006 to 13 years in jail for spying for Britain.

He was convicted of passing the identities of Russian intelligence agents working undercover in Europe to the UK's Secret Intelligence Service (known as MI6).

Prosecutors said he had been paid some $100,000 by MI6 for the information, which he had been supplying since the 1990s when he was still a serving officer.

ALEXANDER ZAPOROZHSKY

A former colonel in Russia's External Intelligence Service (SVR), Zaporozhsky was sentenced to 18 years of hard labour in 2003 on espionage charges. He has spent nine years in detention.

He was accused of passing information about Russian overseas intelligence activities to foreign governments, and of revealing the identities of more than 20 US-based Russian spies.

Russian media speculated that Zaporozhsky had been behind the exposure of former FBI agent Robert Hanssen, convicted in the US on charges of spying for Russia. The CIA did not comment, the New York Times reports.

He worked for an American company in the US state of Maryland after his retirement from the SVR in 1997, but was arrested on a trip to Moscow in 2001.

GENNADY VASILENKO

Vasilenko is reported to be a former KGB officer employed as a security officer by Russia's NTV television.

In 2006, he was sentenced to three years on charges of illegal weapons possession and resistance to authorities.

In his garage police found four pistols - three of them foreign - explosives and detonators, the Russian news agency RIA Novosti reports. He was 64 at the time.

Later his name was mentioned in connection with the Robert Hanssen spy investigation in the US.

RIA Novosti says Vasilenko served in the KGB in the 1970s and operated as a spy in Washington. According to media reports, he was arrested in 1988 during a trip to Cuba and sent back to the then USSR, where he was accused of spying for the US. No evidence was produced against him, but he was later demoted and sacked from the KGB.

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