Arrow-right Camera
News >  Spokane

Russia Won’t Pursue Cell-Phone Salesman

An American arrested while installing a cellular telephone system in Russia and charged with espionage will not have to go back to Russia, a U.S. official said Wednesday.

While the case technically remains under investigation, forcing Richard Bliss to return would be impossible because there is no extradition treaty with Russia, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Presumably, Russian officials knew Bliss could not be compelled to go back to Rostov when they permitted him to go home to the United States for the Christmas holidays.

U.S. Ambassador James Collins was informed by Georgi Mamedov, the deputy foreign minister, at a meeting Wednesday in Moscow, that Bliss would not have to return now.

Sen. Richard H. Bryan, D-Nev., said high-level diplomatic negotiations had persuaded Russia to lift a Saturday deadline for Bliss to return.

Bliss’ employer, Qualcomm Inc., said through a spokesperson that word came from the State Department while his visa was being prepared.