Russia, Estonia exchange 2 prisoners on border bridge

AP News
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Posted: Sep 26, 2015 10:54 AM

MOSCOW (AP) — Russia has exchanged an Estonian who had been convicted of espionage for a former Estonian policeman convicted of treason for passing state secrets to Moscow.

The two men were exchanged Saturday on a bridge crossing a river on the countries' border, according to a statement from Russia's Federal Security Service cited by state news agencies. Russian state television showed a seemingly casual exchange: two men, each with one companion, meeting at the middle of a bridge, briefly embracing the handlers and walking off.

The Estonian released from Russia, Eston Kohver, had been sentenced last month in Russia to 15 years for spying. Estonia, however, claims he had been kidnapped and spirited across the border.

Aleksei Dressen, the other man in the exchange, is a former Estonian security police official who was arrested in 2012 and sentenced to 16 years in prison. His wife, Viktoria, was also convicted and served a year in prison. Her whereabouts Saturday were not known.

"I thank Eston for not giving up at this difficult time," Estonian Prime Minister Taavi Roivas said in a statement.