MOSCOW -- Seeking to make a political point, a group of Russian lawmakers is initiating a request to seek extradition from the United States of a Russian intelligence officer, Col. Alexander Poteyev, who escaped to America in 2010 after betraying a major network of Russian spies in the U.S.
The lawmakers are comparing the case of Poteyev to that of NSA leaker Edward Snowden, who remains holed up in a Moscow airport, having requested asylum in nearly two dozen nations.
"We initiate this request in connection with the status and the situation around Edward Snowden who is still in Russia," said a lawmaker who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the case. "Thus we would like to test the readiness of the United States for cooperation with Russia on various issues."
Poteyev fled to the U.S. in 2010 after exposing a network of 11 spies, including Anna Chapman, who were detained and then exchanged for two Russians serving prison terms for espionage. Poteyev was found guilty of treason in absentia by a Russian military court.
"This move is certainly designed to only demonstrate to the United States that they have no right to ask for Snowden's extradition," Igor Korotchenko, editor of the National Defense monthly journal said in an interview. "The United States will never ever extradite Poteyev because he was the most precious mole the U.S. ever had recruited among the Russian intelligence."
"The U.S. will not exchange Poteyev for 10 Snowdens, as the baragin is obviously not worth the price," Korotchenko said.