Frederic Pryor

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Frederic L. Pryor (born 1933) is an American Senior Research Scholar of Economics at Swarthmore College, widely known for his role in a noted Cold War spy-swap subsequent to the 1960 U-2 incident.

Pryor has worked as an economic advisor in Ukraine and Latvia, was employed as a consultant to the World Bank in Africa, served as a Research Director to the Pennsylvania Tax Commission, and has been a Research Associate at both the Hoover Institution in Palo Alto, Calif., and the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C.

He has won research grants from the National Science Foundation, the National Council of Soviet and East European Studies, and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Receiving a B.A. in chemistry from Oberlin College and a Ph.D. in economics from Yale University, he has occupied teaching or research positions at Yale, the University of California, the University of Michigan, the University of Paris, the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva, and several other universities. He joined the Swarthmore faculty in 1967.[1]

Cold War incident[edit]

In August 1961, Pryor was arrested and held without charge by the East German police. He had been taking graduate courses in East European studies at the Free University of West Berlin since 1959. On February 10, 1962, Pryor was freed at Checkpoint Charlie just before American U-2 pilot Francis Gary Powers was swapped for Soviet KGB Colonel William Heinrikhovich Fisher (a.k.a. Rudolf Ivanovich Abel) at the Glienicke Bridge between West Berlin and Potsdam, East Germany,[2][3] as a result of negotiations conducted by James B. Donovan.

In popular culture[edit]

Pryor's involvement in this incident is dramatized as a subplot in the 2015 film Bridge of Spies, in which he is portrayed by Will Rogers with Tom Hanks as Donovan. Pryor was "simply at the wrong place at the wrong time," he says. Pryor praised the movie but mentioned that the filmmakers "took a lot of liberties with it". Pryor was not consulted regarding the movie and after seeing it for the first time in theaters with his family, he remarked to a fellow moviegoer that the film included inaccurate portrayals in parts. When the patron asked how he knew, Pryor replied, "I'm Frederic Pryor."[4]

Academic history[edit]



  1. ^ Fredrick Pryor,, access date 9 March 2016
  2. ^ "Abel for Powers". TIME. February 16, 1962. Retrieved 2008-07-03.
  3. ^ Wicker, Tom (10 February 1962). "Powers is Freed by Soviet in an Exchange for Abel; U-2 Pilot on Way to U.S." The New York Times. Retrieved 17 October 2015.
  4. ^ Economist Frederic Pryor Recounts Life as a 'Spy',, access date 30 December 2015

External links[edit]