Wednesday 13 December 2017

My double life, by traitor Blake

George Blake, pictured in 2007 (AP)
George Blake, pictured in 2007 (AP)

George Blake, the former British spy who was a double agent working for the Soviet KGB, has spoken about his career with pride and called himself an "exceptionally lucky man".

Blake, who will turn 90 on Sunday and has lived in Russia since his escape from Wormwood Scrubs prison in London in 1966, told the Russian daily Rossiyskaya Gazeta that he has spent his "happiest" years in the country.

"When I worked in the West I always felt a looming threat of exposure. Here I felt myself free," he is quoted as saying.

Blake passed some of the most coveted British secrets to the Soviets. He said that exposing a Western plan to eavesdrop on Soviet communications from an underground tunnel into East Berlin was his main achievement.

He also shared details of his adventures, including meetings with a Soviet liaison in East Berlin.

He said that once a month he would take a train to East Berlin, make sure that he was not being followed, and go by a car to a secret apartment where he and his contact would have a talk accompanied by a glass of Soviet-made sparkling wine.

In 1961, Blake was exposed by a Polish defector and sentenced to 42 years in prison. He said that the British prison authorities were lax enough to allow him to take regular walks with another Soviet spy, Gordon Lonsdale.

In October 1966, Blake made a dashing escape from prison with the assistance of several people whom he met in custody. He broke his wrist while jumping the wall and told Rossiyskaya Gazeta that he still feels the pain sometimes. He spent two months hiding at his assistant's place, and was then driven across Europe to East Berlin in a wooden box under a car.

In the Soviet Union, Blake maintained contacts with other British double agents. He said he regularly met Donald Maclean and Kim Philby, members of the so-called Cambridge Five ring of spies, and he said he and Maclean were particularly close. Blake said he adapted well to life in Russia and once joked at a meeting with Russian intelligence officers that he's like a "foreign-made car that adapted well to Russian roads."

"They appreciated the joke," said Blake, who was given the rank of colonel by Russian intelligence authorities.

Press Association

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