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Kennedy: Powers a "Free Agent" after Interrogation

Feb. 14, 1962 - Francis Gary Powers can testify before Congressional committees and talk with newsmen after he completes “important interviews” with the Government, President Kennedy said today. Mr. Powers, the U.S. spy who was exchanged last week in Berlin for Col. Rudolf I. Abel, a Soviet spy, will be a “free agent” after his interrogation, the President said at his news conference. Mr. Kennedy indicated one reservation. After the Government completed its interviewing of Mr. Powers, he said, “he will be available and will give whatever information would be in the national interest to give.” That indicated that Mr. Powers, 32-year-old former Air Force man, might not be free to disclose all the details of his U-2 flight over the Soviet Union, his mysterious grounding near Sverdlovsk, and his subsequent trial and imprisonment. The Russians say they shot down the Lockheed-built high-altitude reconnaissance craft, but there is some doubt about this among U.S. officials. The President’s remarks indicated that the U-2 pilot faced no difficulties with the Government as to his personal conduct before and after his capture.

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