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2 Germanys Conduct Minor Spy Swap

July 24, 1986|United Press International

BONN — West Germany swapped a convicted East German agent for an unidentified couple held prisoner in East Germany in the first spy swap since last winter's release of Soviet dissident Anatoly Shcharansky, the government said Wednesday.

A government spokesman identified the agent released by West Germany as Hansjoerg Thaten, 62, and said the man and woman released to the West were both 60 years old but did not name them or provide details on their case.

The spokesman also did not say when the swap was carried out.

In contrast to the February exchange that included Shcharansky, the three people involved in the latest trade were little known. Thaten, a native of Mittweida, East Germany, was arrested Aug. 6 near Stuttgart on an espionage warrant and was sentenced to three years in prison after being convicted of espionage.

Sources said that Thaten, a retiree, was recruited for espionage activities by the East German Ministry for State Security as early as 1984.

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