FRANKFURT, WEST GERMANY -- -- U.S. Army private Wade Roberts, who defected to the Soviet Union seven months ago, returned to West Germany yesterday with his pregnant girlfriend and said he would surrender to U.S. officials.
Roberts, 22, arrived in Frankfurt aboard an Aeroflot flight from Moscow with his West German girlfriend, Petra Neumann, 24. The pair passed easily through passport controls and were not met by U.S. authorities.
Last spring, Roberts, a California native, was granted asylum in the Soviet Union with Neumann after leaving his Army unit in West Germany.
Roberts told journalists he had "a piece of paper from the U.S. Embassy" in Moscow saying he would be charged with being absent without leave, rather than the more serious crime of desertion. But U.S. military spokesmen in West Germany said that Roberts would face desertion charges.
Roberts said he decided to return to the West to face the charges against him because, "I really don't feel like I should go around the rest of my life with this hanging over my head."
Roberts and Neumann were given an apartment in Ashkhabad, capital of the central Asian republic of Turkmenia, and he worked at a snake farm after professing an interest in working with "exotic" animals.
But about three weeks ago, they arrived in Moscow and stayed in a hotel at government expense, saying they had grown tired of life in Turkmenia. Roberts also criticized some western news reports for portraying him as naive.