George Blake, famous Soviet double agent who fled to Russia after London prison break, dies at 98
British spy, turned Soviet double agent, George Blake has died in Moscow, Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) has announced. The unrepentant communist was 98 and held the rank of colonel in the Russian institution.
“We have received bitter news, the legendary George Blake is gone,” SVR spokesman Sergey Ivanov told Russian media on Saturday.
Blake, a member of Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service (MI6), became a communist while serving as a prisoner of war in Korea. In 1953 Blake informed Soviet intelligence of US and British plans to build a tunnel into the Soviet-occupied zone of Berlin to surveil landline communications at the Soviet Army headquarters. The Soviets unearthed the tunnel two years later, after carrying out an elaborate operation in which they fed western spies misinformation. The intelligence leak and the Soviet operation was only discovered by MI6 after Blake was exposed as a double agent, nearly ten years later.
In 1961, the British spy was caught passing secrets to the Soviet Union’s secret police, the KGB, and was sentenced to 42 years behind bars. He managed to escape from Wormwood Scrubs prison in London in 1966 and flee to East Germany.
Despite his advanced age, Blake remained active in Russian intelligence circles. He received the country’s Order of Friendship in 2007. Ten years later, he released a statement in which he claimed that Russian spies have been tasked with “the difficult and critical mission” of safeguarding the world from self-destruction due to the continued threat of nuclear war.
“It's a true battle between good and evil,” he said at the time.
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