MOSCOW — Soviet officials said today that they plan to bring smuggling charges against U.S. News & World Report correspondent Nicholas Daniloff, held since Saturday for alleged espionage, his wife said.
"They say they are beginning a case against us for trying to smuggle out jewelry they claim is Soviet," Ruth Daniloff said.
She said customs officials informed her today that the couple violated two customs statutes in connection with $2,250 worth of jewelry found in their belongings. The jewelry had not been declared on customs forms when it was taken into the country.
"It's the kind of stuff you never use--you know, my mother's locket and a gold pocket watch that Nick's father gave me," she said. "It never occurred to me to declare it, and now they claim it's Soviet."
Daniloff told United Press International last Friday, one day before he was picked up, that some jewelry was confiscated by customs officials when the couple's household goods were inspected before shipment to the United States earlier that week.
'Just So Stupid'
"I will talk to the U.S. Embassy about this, but frankly they can have the jewelry. I have enough on my hands," Ruth Daniloff said.
Mortimer Zuckerman, the owner and editor-in-chief of the magazine, left Moscow today aboard a British Airways flight to London.
Zuckerman, who arrived in Moscow on Monday to negotiate Daniloff's release, declined to talk to reporters, saying negotiations had reached a delicate stage.
U.S. News & World Report announced today that former Secretary of State Cyrus Vance has been hired as counsel and has been working since early this week to win Daniloff's release.
Also today, the State Department officials, ruling out a straight swap, said they may consider releasing an accused Soviet spy from jail in hopes the Soviets would free Daniloff.
The Baltimore Sun had reported in its editions today that Reagan Administration officials are working on such a plan.
In what one U.S. official called "the germ of an idea," accused spy Gennady Zakharov, now in prison without bail in New York on a charge of espionage, would be freed and put in the custody of Yuli Dubynin, Soviet ambassador to the United States.
Dubynin would guarantee that Zakharov would not try to leave the country and would appear for his trial. In return, under the proposal, Daniloff would be released permitted to leave the Soviet Union with his family.