An indictment has been returned in New York against 11 defendants accused of spying for Russia.
The indictment unsealed in federal court in Manhattan on Wednesday charges all 11 defendants with conspiring to act as secret agents in the United States on behalf of the Russian Federation.
Nine of the defendants were also charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering.
The 11 defendants who were arrested last week already faced the same charges in criminal complaints.
The defendants were accused of living seemingly ordinary lives in America while they acted as unregistered agents for the Russian government, sending secret messages and carrying out orders they received from their Russian contacts.
In Alexandria, Va., a scheduled court hearing for the three northern Virginia suspects was canceled Wednesday, and the trio was ordered to federal court in New York amid speculation that the U.S. and Russia are arranging a spy swap. Michael Zottoli, Patricia Mills and Mikhail Semenko were to be moved to New York instead of appearing in Virginia.
In Washington, the third-ranking U.S. diplomat, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns, a former American ambassador to Moscow, had a Wednesday morning meeting scheduled with Russian Ambassador to the United States Sergey Kislyak. Officials declined to comment on the reason for the meeting, the location of which was identified only as "Washington, D.C."
Earlier, the brother of a man serving a 14-year prison sentence in Russia for alleged spying told reporters in Moscow that the United States and Russia are working on a spy swap.
Dmitry Sutyagin said his brother Igor, who is serving a 14-year prison sentence on charges of spying for the United States, was told by Russian officials that he was included in a group of other convicted foreign spies who are to be exchanged for the Russians arrested by the FBI last month.
The officials met Igor Sutyagin on Monday at a prison in Arkhangelsk, in northwestern Russia, and U.S. officials were at the meeting, his brother said.
Zottoli, Mills and Semenko are among 11 people arrested last month following a multi-year investigation of what prosecutors say was a long-term Russian effort to glean sensitive information.