Saturday, February 10, 1962: U-2 incident: Spy swap

Excerpts from The Associated Press:

American U2 pilot Francis Gary Powers was freed from a Russian prison and traded dramatically today for master Soviet spy Rudolph Abel in an early morning exchange at the middle of a bridge between East Germany and West Berlin.
Announcement of the trade was made at the White House at 3:19 a.m. to a corp of newsmen routed out of bed.
President Kennedy had gotten the word only a few minutes before in the White House quarters.
Powers had been in Russian custody since his high-altitude camera plane was downed on Soviet soil in May 1960.
After a spectacular public trial in which Powers pleaded guilty to espionage charges, he was sentenced to 10 years.
Abel had been described as Russia's chief spy in the United States when he was arrested in Manhattan June 21, 1957.
The exchange went off with cloak and dagger secrecy.
The dark-haired Powers and the gaunt Abel were escorted simultaneously onto Glienicker Bridge, connecting Potsdam with Wannsee in the US sector of Berlin.
The walk to freedom on the bridge for Powers ended weeks of Soviet-US negotiations.

From the Soviet Union's TASS news agency:

The announced decision of the USSR Supreme Soviet Presidium to pardon Francis Powers in the interests of improving Soviet-U.S. relations managed to get into the late editions of U.S. morning papers, which published it under enormous banner headlines. An AP correspondent reports from Moscow that Powers left his place of imprisonment with the following words: "I will never fly over Soviet Russia again."

Photo from Deutsche Presse-Agentur, taken on the day of the exchange.

* "Powers Is Freed By Soviet In An Exchange for Abel; U-2 Pilot On Way To U.S." (New York Times, February 10): @
* "U-2 Pilot Powers Goes Free In Dramatic Trade With Reds" (Ocala Star-Banner, February 11): @
* "The Abel for Powers Exchange" (newsreel): @
* "The Great Spy Swap ... An Album of Intrigue" (Life magazine, February 16): @
* "Inside Story of a Lawyer's Adventure" (Life magazine, February 23): @
* "Bridge of Spies: A True Story of the Cold War" (book by Giles Whittell): @

-- Rudolph Abel
* Short biography of Abel (from Counterintelligence Briefing Center, U.S. Department of Energy): @
* "Top-Ranking Russian Spy Chief Captured" (newsreel, 1957): @
* "The Hollow Coin" (Department of Defense film about Abel case, 1958): @
* Summary of Abel case (from www.fbi.gov): @

-- Previous blog entries
* U-2 incident (May 1, 1960): @
* U-2 evidence (May 7, 1960): @
* Powers' indictment (July 9, 1960): @
* Powers' trial (August 17-19, 1960): @

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