Tuesday 17 September 2019

US agent's cover blown by FBI spy

Ben Fenton in Washington

ROBERT HANSSEN, the senior FBI agent who has admitted spying for Russia, gave away the identity of America's top spy in Moscow eight years before the man was executed.

The confession has worried the US and British intelligence agencies, who have been re-examining all the material provided by the spy, Dmitri Polyakov, during those eight years, on the basis that it might be false or misleading.

Major General Polyakov, a general in the Soviet military intelligence organisation GRU, was previously thought to have been betrayed by Aldrich Ames, the CIA spy, in about 1985. But Hanssen has admitted to debriefers in Washington that he had told the GRU that Polyakov was a double agent soon after he started spying, in about 1980.

That would mean all information passed by Polyakov, known by the codenames Top Hat and Bourbon, in the following eight years was compromised.

America relied heavily on information from Top Hat from 1961 and he was regarded as one of the most important agents ever in the Soviet Union.

James Woolsey, a former director of the CIA, said of Top Hat: "What Gen Polyakov did for the West didn't just help us win the Cold War, it kept the Cold War from becoming hot."

Top Hat was executed in April, 1988 and the FBI believes that Polyakov, who was recalled to Moscow in June, 1980 during a foreign assignment, may have been "turned" by the Soviets into a triple agent, sending the West misinformation and outright deception during the intervening eight years.

(Daily Telegraph, London)

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