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John L. Martin supervised 76 espionage cases during his 26 years at the Justice Department, but he’s never seen one end like this one.
Martin said swapping spies who have not been sentenced to time in prison, much less served it, is "all but unprecedented."
Martin could recall only one case in which an accused spy was swapped without first being convicted and sentenced to prison.
“For earlier exchanges, we worked for a number of years before we came up with a final number of people we would be willing to release,” among other considerations, he said.
"Both sides were doing that," he said of the Cold War era.
"We would arrest people, they would arrest people. As we arrested more people, the negotiations would intensify."
All of which makes the speed with which the latest case played out "absolutely unprecedented," he said.
The fate of their children were certainly "part of the negotiations, " Martin said -- another precedent.
The Russians will claim those who were Russian-born are their citizens, Martin said.
"For the children who are native-born Americans, the Constitution confers American citizenship," he noted.
But evidence that their parents' citizenship was falsely obtained will complicate matters.
"Children who are foreign-born and whose parents used false documentation to obtain their child's citizenship, places the children in jeopardy in terms of their status," Martin said.
Those over 18 can decide for themselves what to do, unless they are here illegally.
But in the end, Martin said, "the families will have to make the decisions" on the fate of their youngsters, he said.
"It puts them in their lap."
Some of the accused have been expressing deep worries about their childrens' well-being, but Martin said his sympathy for them has limits.
"They should have been thinking about that before taking on their spying assignments," he said.
Wow!! Does not compute!!! Did we learn all we need to know in the short week that we had them in custody? Doubtful.
So, nothing can be learned from interrogation? How about some jail time and a little subsequent conversation? I would prefer some water boarding!!
Nice job defending the administration though. Mission accomplished. If it were only that simple.