Russian Double Agent Who Brought Down Sleeper Ring Convicted Of Treason

Huffington Post Op Ed 6/30/10
Huffington Post Op Ed 7/8/10

Colonel Alexander Poteyev, the Russian double agent instrumental in the arrests of ten Russian spies in the United States last June 27, was convicted of treason and desertion in absentia by the Moscow District Military Court, which handed down a prison sentence of 25 years. The conviction of Colonel Poteyev, the former deputy head of the Foreign Intelligence Service’s “S” department, stemmed in large part from testimony given by Anna Chapman and her fellow ring members. Their guilty plea to the American espionage charges was followed by a return home that was made possible by the most conspicuous spy exchange of the post Cold War era. Chapman and the nine other operatives testified that their apprehension was predicated on information that could have issued solely from Poteyev. Chapman stated her arrest came on the heels of contact with an American operative who employed a codeword to which Poteyev and her handler alone were privy.

In the aftermath of the spy ring arrests, Poteyev disappeared right before the spy swap took place on July 9, 2010 and escaped to America by way of Belarus and Germany, referred to in the verdict handed down at his trial. The spies were accorded a heroes’ welcome on their return to Russia while Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin reviled Poteyev on a national television broadcast that followed the spy exchange. In a curious addendum to the whole affair, Chapman was able to capitalize on it by becoming not only an official In Putin’s party but also a television host and runway model.

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