Soviet officials released American reporter Nicholas Daniloff from prison today but did not drop spy charges against him or allow him to leave the country. In a parallel move, U.S. authorities freed a Soviet charged in New York with spying.
“You must know that I am not a free man today,” a haggard but elated Daniloff said outside Lefortovo Prison, where he had been held since his arrest Aug. 30.
“I have changed one hotel for a much better hotel and I am looking forward to it immensely,” he said. A crowd of reporters outside the prison responded with a cheer as television camera lights flooded the street in a working-class section of eastern Moscow.
U.S. Charge d’Affaires Richard Combs then escorted Daniloff to the U.S. Embassy, where he was to stay.
Soviet Employee Freed
In New York, authorities freed Soviet U.N. employee Gennady F. Zakharov, pending his trial, into the custody of Soviet Ambassador Yuri V. Dubinin. Zakharov was arrested Aug. 23 and charged with espionage. U.S. officials said Zakharov cannot leave the New York area.
Soviet officials have insisted Daniloff was not arrested in retaliation for Zakharov’s arrest. U.S. officials have maintained that Daniloff was framed.
In Washington, Secretary of State George P. Shultz reiterated that there is “no equivalency” between the two cases and ruled out an outright swap. But he said the United States will continue pushing the Kremlin to allow Daniloff to return home.
Soviet Inquiry Continues
The official Soviet press agency Tass said, “The investigation into Daniloff’s case continues. He must not leave the territory of the Soviet Union and in case of need must report to the investigating authorities on their summons.”
Daniloff, 51, a correspondent for U.S. News & World Report, was released from prison about 8:50 p.m. and driven to the U.S. Embassy in an embassy limousine. The car stopped briefly outside the prison, where reporters were gathered, and Daniloff emerged cheering, his hands clasped over his head.
He shouted that he felt “terrific” to be out of prison. Daniloff said he must call a KGB investigator every day and could not leave the Moscow area.
His wife, Ruth, beamed at him and snapped pictures with a small camera. Just before the release, she said, “I’m ecstatic, but he’s still a hostage.”
Package Handed Over
Daniloff had been preparing to leave Moscow for a new assignment in Washington when he was arrested. He told his wife that eight KGB agents grabbed him moments after a Soviet acquaintance gave him a sealed package, saying it contained news clippings.
The secret police later opened the packet and said it contained documents marked secret.
At the U.S. Embassy, Daniloff reiterated that he is innocent of the spy charge, saying, “I have never had any relationship with any intelligence service with any country.”
He told fellow reporters, “Thank you for all your great support. All I can say is, I’m glad it’s over, or almost over. . . . I’m tired.”