Werner Stiller, one of the Cold War’s most notable defectors, dies

Werner StillerWerner Stiller, also known as Klaus-Peter Fischer, whose spectacular defection to the West in 1979 inflicted one of the Cold War’s most serious blows to the intelligence agency of East Germany, has died in Hungary. Stiller, 69, is believed to have died on December 20 of last year, but his death was not reported in the German media until last week. Born in 1947 in the German Democratic Republic, Stiller excelled in the sciences from an early age and eventually studied physics at the University of Leipzig, which was known at the time as Karl Marx Universitat. Shortly after graduating, he joined the GDR’s Ministry of State Security, commonly known as the Stasi. Within a few years, he was working as a case officer for the Main Directorate for Reconnaissance, the Stasi’s foreign intelligence division, where he was in charge of scientific espionage in the West. By the late 1970s, Stiller was handling nearly 30 spies —most of them abroad— who were regularly providing him with intelligence relating to nuclear research, weapons technologies, and biomedical research.

However, the Stasi vehemently disapproved of Stiller’s promiscuous lifestyle —he was married five times in his life and was reputed to have had many more affairs— which was one of the reasons why he decided to seek a new life in the West. In January of 1979, with the help of a waitress he was having an affair with, Stiller defected to West Germany along with a packet of microfiche containing hundreds of classified Stasi documents. He later helped the waitress escape to the West with her young son and an estimated 20,000 more pages of classified documents. The West German Federal Intelligence Service (BND) eventually shared the information from Stiller’s defection with the United States Central Intelligence Agency. It led to the dramatic arrests of 17 Stasi agents and officers in Europe and the US, while at least 15 others escaped arrest at the last minute, after being urgently recalled back to East Germany. The Stasi is believed to have recalled an additional 40 operatives from several Western countries as a precaution in response to Stiller’s defection. The information that Stiller gave to the BND also helped visually identify the longtime director of the Stasi’s Main Directorate for Reconnaissance, Markus Wolf. Previously, Western intelligence services had no photographs of Wolf, who was known as ‘the man without a face’, due to the many decades he spent as an undercover officer.

In 1981, Stiller moved to the US, where the CIA provided him with a new identity, using the fake name Klaus-Peter Fischer, a Hungarian émigré. He studied economics at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, before working as an investment banker for Goldman Sachs in the US and eventually an exchange broker for Lehman Brothers in Germany. It is believed that the Stasi kept looking for Stiller until the dissolution of the GDR in 1990, with the intent of abducting him or killing him. In 1999, Stiller moved to Hungary, where he stayed until the end of his life. He is survived by a son and a daughter.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 04 April 2017 | Permalink

Ex-Soviet spy living in America comes out 25 years after Cold War

Jack Barsky, real name Albrecht DittrichBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org
An Eastern Bloc spy, who still lives in the United States after arriving there in 1978 on orders of the Soviet KGB, has spoken out for the first time. The spy assumed a forged American identity and remained operational for a decade before abandoning his post and quietly blending into American suburbia, toward the end of Cold War. He spoke last weekend to CBS’ flagship investigative program 60 Minutes. He told the program that he now lives in the US as Jack Barsky, an identity he assumed soon after arriving in New York with a forged Canadian passport.

But his real name is Albrecht Dittrich, and he was born in communist-era East Germany. He was a PhD student in chemistry when, in 1970, he was approached by the Stasi, the East German secret police, and asked whether he would consider training as an intelligence operative. He accepted and trained for three years under the supervision of the Soviet KGB. In 1973, he was taken to East Berlin and detailed to the KGB for training as an operations officer. He was later transferred to Moscow, where he underwent a full year of phonetics training and was taught to speak English with “no trace of a German accent”, he says.

Soon after arriving in the US, in 1978, he acquired a social security card using a birth certificate issued for Jack Philip Barsky, an American child who had died at the age of 10 in the Washington, DC, area. He told everyone that he was born in Orange, New Jersey. He eventually enrolled in a Manhattan college, where he studied computer systems. His first job out of college was as a computer programmer for Metropolitan Life Insurance, commonly known as MetLife. While there, he stole computer code for the KGB, including “a very prominent piece of industrial software still in use today”, which was “helpful to the Soviet Union”, he says. Barsky traveled back to East Germany often, using a series of false passports. During one of those visits, he married his longtime girlfriend and had a son with her. But he also married in the United States, and had two children with his wife, so as to better blend into American society. The two families knew nothing of each other’s existence.

Then, in 1988, the KGB informed Barsky that he was to return home immediately because of fears that the Federal Bureau of Investigation may be closing in on him. But the spy disobeyed orders; he decided to abandon his post and continue living in the US. He lived a comfortable life in rural Pennsylvania, until 1997, when the FBI began monitoring him. His name had been provided to the US government by Vasili Mitrokhin, a retired archivist for the KGB, who in 1992 defected to Britain, taking with him several suitcases of classified KGB material. The FBI purchased a house next to Barsky’s and eventually bugged his home. The former KGB spy was arrested in May 1997, but struck a deal with the FBI and was spared a jail sentence in return for sharing everything he knew about his training, mission and operations with the Bureau. Today he still lives in the US. He is divorced, but says his life is in America, not in Germany.

Interview with US airman who spied for East Germany

Jeff CarneyBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org
A former intelligence specialist in the United States Air Force, who became one of East Germany’s most lucrative spies in the West, has given a rare media interview. Jeff Carney was a linguist and intelligence specialist assigned to the US Electronic Security Command at Tempelhof Central Airport in West Berlin during the closing stages of the Cold War. In April of 1983, Carney, who was then aged just 19, walked across the dividing line between West and East Berlin and asked to speak to representatives of the East German government. He has since argued that his defection was prompted by his disagreement with the foreign policy of the administration of US President Ronald Reagan. But in an interview aired on Wednesday by the BBC, he claimed there was “nothing ideological about his decision to defect”, and that he, as a gay man, “felt unwanted” because of the US military’s stance on homosexuality. His plan, which he described in his interview as “an impulsive move” was to request to live in the German Democratic Republic. But instead of granting his wish, East German intelligence officials commanded him to return to his post at Tempelhof and become an agent-in-place. Carney claims that they threatened to reveal to his US Air Force superiors his attempt to defect if he refused to cooperate. The young airman returned to his base and began spying for East Germany’s Ministry for State Security (MfS), commonly known as Stasi. He was provided with a miniature camera, given the operational codename UWE, and was told supply his handler, codenamed RALPH, with classified documents, which he smuggled out of Tempelhof in his shoes and clothing. His West German tour came to an end in 1984, when he was transferred to the US state of Texas. While there, he continued to spy for the Stasi, traveling to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and Mexico City, Mexico, in order to meet with his East German handlers. However, in 1985, believing that his superiors in the Air Force were beginning to suspect him of espionage, he traveled to Mexico and walked in the East German embassy in Mexico City, demanding to be transferred to East Germany. The Stasi eventually smuggled him out of Mexico to Cuba, and from there to Czechoslovakia before resettling him to East Germany. Read more of this post

Missing section of Cold War spy tunnel unearthed in Germany

Part of the unearthed tunnelBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
A missing section of a secret tunnel, constructed by British and American intelligence agencies to spy on Soviet and East German government communications during the Cold War has been unearthed in Germany. The tunnel, believed to be nearly half a kilometer (1/3 mile) long, was part of the Central Intelligence Agency’s Operation GOLD, also known as Operation STOPWATCH in Britain. It was based on an idea initially suggested to the Americans in the early 1950s by Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service (MI6), which had carried out a similar scheme in Soviet-occupied Austria. The CIA adopted and funded the program at the cost of nearly $7 million. At its completion, the underground tunnel connected a secret entry-point in Rudow, West Berlin, to a location beneath Alt-Glienicke in East Berlin. The aim behind the project was to tap into underground telephone cables facilitating Soviet and East German military and civilian government communications. But the KGB, the Soviet Union’s foremost intelligence agency during the Cold War, was aware of the project almost from its infancy, thanks to George Blake, a British informant who was later convicted to 42 years in prison, but managed to escape to Moscow in 1966. Interestingly, the KGB did not reveal the tunnel’s existence to the Soviet and East German militaries, fearing that a sudden rerouting of communications cables would expose Blake as a Soviet mole. Instead, they allowed the tunnel to operate for nearly a year before publicly exposing its existence in 1956. At that time, Soviet and East German authorities dug up the eastern section of the tunnel and bussed in hundreds of international reporters, as well as tens of thousands of East Germans, to view the tunnel, in a massive propaganda campaign. In 1997, part of the tunnel that crossed West Berlin was excavated and transported to the Allied Museum in Berlin. Read more of this post

Vladimir Putin ‘targeted by German spy agency’ during his KGB days

Vladimir Putin

Vladimir Putin

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
A German researcher claims that Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin was targeted by West German intelligence in the 1980s when he was a KGB operative in East Germany. In the Cold War’s closing stages, Putin and his wife, Ludmila Putina, who were then in their thirties, spent five years in Dresden, German Democratic Republic. As one of four KGB officers in Dresden, Putin was tasked with infiltrating the local university and monitoring the on-campus activities of the children of Soviet and East German notables. But according to new research published last week, an undercover agent of the BND, West Germany’s external intelligence agency, was able to infiltrate the Putin household in Dresden, and pass private information about the couple’s personal life to her spymasters in Bonn and in NATO. The agent, codenamed LENCHEN, a native German, worked as a translator at the KGB station in Dresden. She reportedly befriended Ludmila Putina, eventually becoming her “shoulder to cry on”, according to Erich Schmidt-Eenboom, director of the Weilheim-based Institute for Peace Studies, who has published several books on the history of the BND. Schmidt-Eenboom claims that LENCHEN became Ludmila Putina’s closest confidante in Dresden. The latter told her that Vladimir Putin had been involved in numerous infidelities over the years and that he often beat his wife. LENCHEN reported to her handlers that life in the Putin household was highly dysfunctional, despite an outward appearance of happiness and normality. Schmidt-Eenboom claims he confirmed the report with at least two unconnected sources with knowledge of BND operations during the Cold War. If the story is historically accurate, it will signify only the second known penetration of KGB structures in Europe by the BND. The only other such example, says Schmidt-Eenboom, involved an agent named COLONEL VIKTOR, who also worked as an agent for the BND in the 1980s. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #611

Kalevi Sorsa

Kalevi Sorsa

►►Diplomat says Finland’s ex-prime minister was Stasi agent. Finnish former diplomat Alpo Rusi said last week that Kalevi Sorsa, Finland’s longest serving prime minister, who led the country in the 1970s and 1980s, is on a secret list of 18 high-profile Finns with links to the Stasi, East Germany’s Cold-War security service. West German intelligence handed the file to its Finnish counterpart in 1990, but the Finnish Supreme Court ruled last year that the list would not be made public.
►►Nazi criminal spied for West Germany. A wiretap operation conducted in the early 1960s by the CIA against the BND, West Germany’s foreign intelligence service, revealed that the BND employed a senior Nazi war criminal, Franz Rademacher, to spy for it in Syria, CIA records show.
►►US government aims to build ‘data eye in the sky’. Social scientists are trying to mine the vast resources of the Internet — Web searches and Twitter messages, Facebook and blog posts, the digital location trails generated by billions of cell phones to “predict the future”.

News you may have missed #571 [updated]

Markus Wolf

Markus Wolf

►►East German spymaster’s widow loses pension battle. Andrea Wolf, The widow of Markus Wolf, the shadowy spymaster of communist East Germany, lost a court battle on Monday to reclaim his honorary pension. Dubbed “The Man Without a Face” because Western intelligence services long lacked even a photograph of him, Wolf directed the General Intelligence Administration, the foreign intelligence division of East Germany’s Stasi. He died in 2006, at the age of 83.
►►Dominica government officials deny spying accusations. Dominican officials have strongly denied accusations that the government of the former British colony, through the National Joint Intelligence Committee (NJIC), has been spying on the activities and actions of political activists over the last few months. According to the allegations, in one case, in April 2009, a member of the Dominica Police Force was sent to Brooklyn, New York, to spy on a conference on the political situation in Dominica, on orders from the country’s Prime Minister. But Dominica’s Police Commissioner, Cyril Carrette, denied the existence of NJIC, and called the accusations unfounded.
►►British spy agency called in to crack BlackBerry encryption. The British intelligence service, MI5, has been drafted in to assist its sister service, GCHQ, in cracking the BlackBerry encryption code, in order to find those responsible for Read more of this post