WEST BERLIN — The United States today swapped four East Bloc spies for 25 alleged Western spies held in East Germany in a dramatic exchange on the same bridge where U-2 spy pilot Francis Gary Powers was freed in 1962.
The East-West spy swap on the Glienicker Bridge, linking the American-occupied sector of Berlin with East Germany, was said to be the largest to take place in postwar Europe.
No American citizens were involved in the exchange.
Of the 25 Eastern European prisoners who were involved in the exchange, two remained behind in East Germany because of family concerns, a U.S. spokesman said.
'Helpful to U.S.'
U.S. officials in Washington said the four Eastern Europeans they released either were indicted or convicted on espionage charges. They did not say what offenses had caused the imprisonment in East Germany and Poland of the 25 Eastern European nationals, but a source in Washington said the 25 "have been helpful to U.S. interests."
Most had been serving life terms in East German prisons for working for U.S. intelligence. Seventeen were Germans.
The Justice Department in Washington identified the four people released by the United States as Marian W. Zacharski of Poland, Alfred Zehe of East Germany, Penyu Baychev Kostadinov of Bulgaria and Alice Michelson of East Germany.
Convicted in California
Zacharski was convicted in California in 1981 for "conspiracy to transmit information relating to the national defense of the United States." He was sentenced to life imprisonment.
Zehe pleaded guilty last Feb. 21 in Massachusetts to a variety of charges, among them conspiracy to transmit information relating to the national defense of the United States to aid a foreign government. He was sentenced to eight years in prison and fined $5,000.
Kostadinov was indicted in 1983 and had been in jail awaiting trial, his lawyer said in New York.
Michelson pleaded guilty May 31 to aiding and abetting agents of a foreign country and was sentenced to 10 years.
"The German Democratic Republic (East Germany) arranged for the release from custody of 25 persons who had been imprisoned in the GDR and Poland," a statement issued by the U.S. Mission in Berlin said.
23 Leave Immediately
It said that the 23 prisoners who were released to U.S. custody "departed Berlin shortly after completion of the exchange." East Germany agreed that the two who remained "will not be subject to further imprisonment and may, if they choose, depart for the West within two weeks without further conditions," the statement said.