Washington, July 10 (ANI): The Obama administration was aware of the existence of the Russian spy ring at least a fortnight before the actual arrests were carried out.
According to the New York Times, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), informed President Barack Obama and his intelligence and security team about their plans to nab the Russians a good 16 days before the arrests were made.
Administration officials said Friday that the arrests were not made for the purpose of making a deal and that no decision about a swap was made until after the Russian agents were in custody.
They described the episode as perhaps the most serious test yet of the new US-Russia relationship, as well as a sign of its enduring complexity.
The ten Russian sleeper agents have since been deported to Moscow, while four men released from Russian prisons were taken from the transfer point in Vienna to London.
The children of the sleeper agents have also been sent with their parents or were preparing to join them, officials said.
Before they moved on the arrests, the FBI had to tell President Obama, who was preparing to host Russian president, Dmitri A. Medvedev, at the White House on June 24.
The president's homeland security and counterterrorism adviser, John Brennan, led the June 11 Oval Office briefing, at which officials described who the agents were, what would be in the complaint and what they would be charged with.
"There was a full discussion about what was going to happen on the day after," said one senior White House official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe internal discussions.
Obama then had a meeting on the case with his National Security Council on June 18, just six days before Medvedev's visit.
The visit went off without any discussion of the case, White House officials said, but three days later, the F.B.I. arrested 10 agents, a sweep that made headlines as a relic of the Cold War. (ANI)