Thatcher’s son was informant for South African spy service

Sir Mark Thathcer

Sir Mark Thathcer

The son of Britain’s former Prime Minister, Margaret (now Baroness) Thatcher, has admitted turning informer to a South African intelligence agency, in connection to a coup plot in central-west Africa which he was accused of having helped finance. In 2004, Sir Mark Thatcher was arrested by members of an elite anticorruption squad in South Africa, for his alleged role in a failed coup against Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, the longtime dictator of energy-rich Equatorial Guinea. Several South African and European mercenaries, including Simon Mann, a British former Special Forces officer, and Nick du Toit, a South African arms dealer, were arrested in Zimbabwe during the planning stages of the failed coup. It soon became understood that the plotters wanted to replace Obiang with exiled opposition leader Severo Moto Nsa, probably in return for access to lucrative oil contracts. But close observers to the case were surprised when Sir Mark, who was named by the coup planners as one of the their financial backers, got away with a relatively minor fine and a four-year suspended jail sentence, while most of the mercenaries themselves are still in prison. The accusations against Sir Mark were repeated last week by Simon Mann, who was released from prison earlier this month. Commenting on Mann’s renewed allegations, Mark Thatcher revealed what may be the reason he escaped prison: he admitted he turned informer to the South African Secret Service (SASS) as the latter was investigating his role in the botched coup. Thatcher said he had dinner with a SASS intelligence agent a few days before he was notified by SASS that he had been “accepted as an intelligence source”. Several questions remain about the coup, however, including how the 65 South African and Armenian (!) mercenaries were recruited, as well as why the Equatorial Guinean government suddenly decided earlier this month to release from prison four whites who were involved in the coup, including Mann and du Toit (the official reason given was “that one must pardon, as Jesus Christ said, when someone has expressed regret”.

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Expert news and commentary on intelligence, espionage, spies and spying, by Dr. Joseph Fitsanakis and Ian Allen.

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