Washington and Moscow could finalise a spy swap as early as today, in a bid to protect warming diplomatic ties from an unwelcome Cold War chill.
A lawyer for Igor Sutyagin, who is serving 15 years behind bars in Russia for spying for the West, says he has been earmarked for inclusion.
Officials for both governments have declined to confirm a deal. But reports suggest the nuclear expert and several others in jail in the country could be traded for members of an alleged Russian spy ring in the US.
There, 10 suspects accused of conspiring to work as illegal agents for the Kremlin, are due in court in New York. It is thought they could enter gulity pleas and then be put on a Moscow-bound plane in exchange for the Russian prisoners.
A meeting between a senior US diplomat and Russia’s Ambassador to Washington has helped fuel rumours of a deal.
A lawyer for the much-talked-about Anna Chapman is quoted as saying Russian officials have met her in jail.
There is still no news on an 11th suspect, arrested in Cyprus, who disappeared after being granted bail.