Former British double agent George Blake, the famous “mole” who spied for the Soviet KGB in the 1950s before defecting to the East, has died at the age of 98 years, Russian news agencies reported on Saturday.
“The legendary intelligence officer George Blake has passed away today,” the spokesman for Russia’s SVR foreign intelligence service Sergei Ivanov told the TASS state news agency.
Ivanov said Blade sincerely loved Russia and admired its people’s exploit during the Second World War.
Blake was a member of the Dutch resistance during World War II, then an agent of the British foreign intelligence service MI6 during the Cold War. He offered his services to the Soviets in the 1950s after seeing US aircraft bomb civilian populations in Korean villages.
He supplied the names of hundreds of KGB agents and revealed the existence of a secret tunnel in East Berlin used to spy on the Soviets. Denounced by a Polish double agent, he was sentenced in 1961 to 42 years in prison in Britain but succeeded in escaping after five years with the help of a rope ladder and his cellmates.
He then fled Britain, crossed the Iron Curtain into the then German Democratic Republic (East Germany), and moved on to Moscow, where he received a hero’s welcome and was given the rank of coronel by the Russian intelligence services.
Despite the fall of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), to which he had dedicated his life, he never regretted his actions.
George Blake was the last of a famous generation of British moles that the USSR managed to recruit at the height of the Cold War.