Nicholas Daniloff, the U.S. News & World Report correspondent who has been detained in Moscow, does not want the United States to swap a Soviet spy suspect for him, his editor said today.
Mortimer B. Zuckerman, owner and editor in chief of U.S. News, said Daniloff told him during a prison meeting that such a swap would not be proper because he is not a spy.
“Nick told me he didn’t feel it was appropriate for him to be swapped for someone clearly involved in espionage,” Zuckerman said upon his arrival at John F. Kennedy International Airport.
“Nick is not a spy,” Zuckerman said. “He’s a hostage in that country.”
But Zuckerman said he favors a proposal under which Daniloff would be released in exchange for the temporary release of Gennady F. Zakharov into Soviet custody pending trial. Zakharov is a U.N. employee who was arrested on a subway platform as he allegedly gave $1,000 to a defense worker for three secret documents.
“This is not a swap,” Zuckerman said. “His (Zakharov’s) trial and legal proceedings would go forward.”
The arrest of Daniloff in a Moscow park occurred after a Soviet acquaintance handed him a packet, and Zuckerman said the arrest was of “such flimsy transparency that it’s outrageous.”
Zuckerman said Daniloff had given the Soviet acquaintance several Stephen King novels more than a year ago. Daniloff had not heard from the man again until receiving three phone calls shortly after the arrest of Zakharov on Aug. 23, Zuckerman said.
He said the packet handed to Daniloff contained articles in provincial newspapers that indicated how Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev was being received in the provinces, poor quality photographs that the magazine had rejected when they were previously offered and two 35-millimeter negatives containing two maps which the KGB said were top secret.
Zuckerman said the packet was something Daniloff “didn’t ask for or anticipate.”
Zuckerman said he spoke with Daniloff, 52, for 90 minutes Wednesday in his 8-by-10-foot cell while a KGB colonel took notes.
“He was thrilled when I walked in,” Zuckerman said. “He literally fell into my arms and was close to tears.”