Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Death of a Spy

The Telegraph has a column on Melita Norwood, the British KGB agent whose death four weeks ago at the age of 93 has only now been announced:
Mrs Norwood, whose espionage activities were disclosed by Vasili Mitrokhin - a former KGB archivist - in 1999 after his defection to MI6 with a large number of files, died at a West Midlands nursing home almost four weeks ago.

Her family arranged a private funeral service after which there was a cremation.

Mrs Norwood, a committed CND and Communist party member, worked as a secretary for the British Non-Ferrous Metals Research Association, whose "tube alloys" project was a cover for nuclear weapons development.

For 40 years Mrs Norwood, who was given the codename Hola by her KGB spymasters, photographed documents and passed them to her Soviet controllers. The intelligence was passed on to Soviet intelligence officials.

According to Christopher Andrew's book, The Mitrokhin Archive, her treachery placed her on a par with Burgess, MacLean, Philby, Blunt and Cairncross. Prof Andrew, a Cambridge academic, discovered Hola's role while examining trunkloads of documents brought out of Russia by Mitrokhin. His research revealed that she had been recruited as an agent in the NKVD, the forerunner of the KGB, in 1937.

Prof Andrew said yesterday that Mrs Norwood had been an "extraordinaily motivated Soviet agent right to the end of her life".

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