MOSCOW, July 9 (Xinhua) -- The Russian Foreign Ministry confirmed in a statement issued Friday that Moscow and Washington had conducted a spy swap.
Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) and U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) "have conducted an exchange of 10 Russian citizens accused in the United States for four persons convicted earlier in Russia in accordance with the Russian and U.S. national laws," said the statement.
The move is based on humanitarian grounds and principled constructive partnership, the statement added.
The swap was conducted "in the general context of improvement of the U.S.-Russian relations, lending them new dynamics in the spirit of high-level fundamental agreements between Moscow and Washington," it said.
It is therefore reasonable to "expect that the course set by the Russian and U.S. leaders will be coherently implemented in practice and that any attempts to derail the parties from this course will fail," the statement said.
Kremlin spokeswoman Natalia Timakova told media earlier Friday that President Dmitry Medvedev has signed a decree, pardoning four people detained in Russia suspected of spying for Western intelligence services, including arms analyst Igor Sutyagin, who has already been deported to Vienna earlier Thursday.
The United States deported Thursday 10 Russian agents in exchange for four convicted Western spies held in Russia in their biggest spy swap since the Cold War.
None of the suspects are believed to have infiltrated the government or obtained classified information.
The Russian Foreign Ministry earlier acknowledged that some of the suspects involved in the case were Russian citizens, but denied that the suspects acted against U.S. interests.
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