Spy archivist discusses fate of Swedish diplomat abducted by KGB

Raoul Wallenberg

Raoul Wallenberg

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The fate of Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg, who was abducted by Soviet intelligence officers in the closing stages of World War II, is one of the unsolved mysteries of 20th century espionage. The 33-year-old Wallenberg was a shrewd businessman who, in the summer of 1944, was posted as Sweden’s ambassador in Budapest, Hungary. During his time in Budapest, he was able to save over 20,000 Hungarian Jews from the Nazi concentration camps, by supplying them with Swedish travel documentation, or smuggling them out of the country through a network of safe houses. He is also reported to have managed to dissuade German military commanders from launching an all-out attack on Budapest’s Jewish ghetto. But Wallenberg was also an American intelligence asset, having been recruited by a US spy operating out of the War Refugee Board, an American government outfit with offices throughout Eastern Europe. In January of 1945, as Soviet forces descended on Axis ally Hungary, Moscow gave orders for Wallenberg’s arrest on charges of spying for Washington. The Swedish diplomat disappeared, never to be seen in public again. Some historians speculate that Joseph Stalin initially intended to exchange Wallenberg for a number of Soviet diplomats and intelligence officers who had defected to Sweden. But according to official Soviet government reports, Wallenberg died of a heart attack on July 17, 1947, while being interrogated at the Lubyanka, a KGB-affiliated prison complex in downtown Moscow. Despite the claims of the official Soviet record, historians have cited periodic reports that Wallenberg may have managed to survive in the Soviet concentration camp system until as late as the 1980s. Earlier this week, Lt. Gen. Vasily Khristoforov, Chief Archivist for the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), one of two successor agencies to the old Soviet KGB, gave an interview about Wallenberg to the Associated Press. Read more of this post

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Did fugitive spy Metsos lead to Russian spy arrests?

Christopher Metsos

C.R. Metsos

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Soon after the June 27 arrests of 10 Russian non-official-cover (NOC) spies in several US cities, one name came to the attention of intelligence observers: Sergei Tretyakov. Tretyakov was a senior Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) officer who defected to the US in 2000, while second-in-command at the SVR station in Russia’s United Nations mission in New York –the same outfit that run the deep-cover operatives arrested in June by the FBI. The Bureau’s own admission that it began monitoring the operatives around 2001, has caused many to believe that Tretyakov, who died suddenly on June 13, at age 53, may have tipped off the FBI about the NOCs. But Russian investigative journalist Yulia Latynina has raised a second possibility, no less intriguing than the first. Namely that it was not Tretyakov who betrayed the deep-cover operatives to the FBI, but rather the mysterious so-called 11th spy, Christopher R. Metsos, a seasoned SVR operative who is said to have acted as a go-between and financier for all 10 Russian spies. Read more of this post

Fate of 11th Russian spy suspect remains a mystery

Christopher Metsos

C.R. Metsos

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
As the world’s media attention is focused firmly on last week’s 14-member spy swap between Russia and the United States, the fate of the 11th member of the Russian deep-cover intelligence network remains unknown. The operative, known as Christopher R. Metsos, was listed as “defendant No. 1” in the FBI criminal complaint against the now infamous Russian illegals network. Like his co-defendants, he was not charged with espionage, but with “acting as an unregistered agent of a foreign government”. He was also charged with money laundering, and was described as the main financier of his ten co-defendants. However, Metsos escaped arrest in the US, because during the FBI raids he was in Cyprus, where he had arrived on June 17. He was arrested on June 29 at the island’s Larnaca International Airport, while trying to board a flight for Budapest, Hungary. A much younger woman traveling with him was allowed to leave on the flight, according to Cypriot media. Read more of this post

Latest from Hungary and Turkey on Budapest assassination

Trache murder

Trache murder

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS| intelNews.org |
Despite the overwhelming silence in Western media about last week’s suspicious murder in broad daylight of a Syrian man in Hungary, the story continues to make headlines in Israel, the Arab world, Turkey and Hungary. IntelNews reported on Friday that a Bassam Trache, a Syrian man who had lived in Hungary for 20 years, was shot dead in Budapest on Wednesday morning, as he was driving his car. Witnesses reported that the assailant stole a small black briefcase from the 52-year-old victim’s vehicle, before fleeing the scene of the crime on foot. It also emerged that, in the week prior to the mysterious shooting, Hungarian air controllers located two Israeli Gulfstream spy planes hovering over the Hungarian capital, close to the airport, where Wednesday’s shooting occurred. Read more of this post

More information on alleged Mossad hit in Budapest

Crime scene

Crime scene

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS| intelNews.org |
IntelNews reported on Friday that a Syrian man was shot dead in Budapest on Wednesday morning, as he was driving his car. Witnesses reported that the assailant stole a small black briefcase from the 52-year-old victim’s vehicle, before fleeing the scene of the crime on foot. It also emerged that, in the week prior to the mysterious shooting, Hungarian air controllers located two Israeli Gulfstream spy planes hovering over the Hungarian capital, close to the airport, where Wednesday’s shooting occurred. Is this Dubai reloaded? Late on Friday, Reuters news agency reported the dead Syrian-born man’s name as Bassam Trache, 52. Meanwhile, Hungarian officials continue to deny any link between Trache’s murder and the alleged Israeli spy planes. Hungarian government spokesman, Domokos Szollar, said the overflight was “routine” training that was cleared in advance with Hungary’s National Transport Authority by the Israelis. However, Hungarian “defense ministry officials appear not to have been informed” of the alleged training exercise. Read more of this post

Another Mossad assassination, this time in Hungary?

Crime scene

Crime scene

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS| intelNews.org |
IntelNews got word last night that an unidentified Syrian man was shot dead in Budapest early on Wednesday morning, as he was driving his car. Witnesses reported that the assailant stole a small black briefcase from the 52-year-old victim’s vehicle, before fleeing the scene of the crime on foot. A few hours later, it emerged that, in the week prior to the mysterious shooting, Hungarian air controllers located two Israeli Gulfstream spy planes hovering over the Hungarian capital, close to the airport, where Wednesday’s shooting actually occurred. The Hungarian government is so far refusing to release precise information as to the identity of the Syrian victim in Wednesday’s shooting. The country’s Ministry of Defense has also refused comment on the Israeli spy planes, except to say that they were “on a diplomatic mission”. Read more of this post