In 1961 a British Spy was imprisoned in the UK for 42 years. His name was George Blake. The British agent was found guilty of being a Soviet mole and had been giving away secrets since the Korean War.
George Blake was born in the Netherlands in 1922. His mother was Dutch and his father was an Egyptian Jew. His real name was George Behars, but he changed the surname to Blake upon arrival in Britain when World War II was beginning.
The Netherlands was occupied and George Blake (AKA George Behars) was part of an anti-Nazi group. He had been interned once but fled before a second arrest could be made.
George Blake (AKA Behars) was already installed with some elementary communist values because he had been sent to an English school in Egypt in 1936. In Cairo he associated with his cousin Henri Curiel. His cousin was 10 years his senior and heavily involved with the Communist Party of Egypt.
The British Secret IntelligenceService recruited him into MI6 and George Blake became his new name. He became deeper embroiled in the British Secret Service as the war progressed. He was translating captured German Documents and after D-Day helped to interrogate German prisoners. He also interrogated German U-boat captains at the end of the war.
In 1948, George Blake was sent to Cambridge University where he was taught to speak Russian. He picked the language up quickly and the course he took was believed to have been very intense. He was then sent to Seoul in South Korea with instructions to set up a spy network of informers into North Korea. It was here that things took a bad turn for the British secret service that employed him. Seoul, the South Korean capital, was overrun by North Korean troops as the Korean War began. George Blake was captured by the communist where he had been staying at the British Embassy.
While in captivity, George Blake changed sides and became a committed communist. He would later talk of air raids by the American Air Force upon a small town in the North of Korea. He stated that this continuous act of bombing a small town of peasants and technically inferior people made him ashamed of the western powers he represented. This coupled with his youth in Egypt alongside Cousin Henri Curiel, plus brain washing by the strict communist North Korean system helped make up his mind that communism was the way forward for all peoples. He would became a Soviet agent.
Blake was released from communist captivity in 1955 and sent back into the British Secret Service, where he was regarded as a hero. He went to Berlin where he was instructed to try and recruit Soviet agents and help the western powers during the Cold War struggle. Instead Blake allowed the Soviets to know his intentions and he was a KGB operative giving plans to the Soviets in exchange for neatly packaged pretend Soviet defectors. Blake handed over so much information to the Soviets that he could not remember everything he did for them.
With the Cambridge Spies still operating at this time, the British Secret Service was well and truly compromised on many fronts. It could be said that it was rotten to the core. Blake was not one of the Cambridge spies, he was a freelancer that worked alone and independent of Kim Philby and Co.
As a sole double agent betraying MI6 and her American allies, Blake was responsible for the betrayal of up to 40 MI6 agents to the Soviets and all of British Intelligence’s Eastern EuropeanNetwork collapsed during the late 1950s period. He was also privy to information that was gold dust to the American CIA. They had a Russian mole acting for them inside the Soviet GRU. (Soviet Foreign Intelligence Agency) This man was P.S. Popov. Blake blew the man to the KGB.
P.S. Popov was executed in 1960 by the Soviet Union as a National traitor. However, by this time, George Blake was exposed by another CIA Mole working in Polish Intelligence. The Polish defector named Michael Goleniewski exposed George Blake as a Soviet mole. The information was passed on by the Americans to the British Secret Service. Blake, who was in the Lebanon in 1961 taking part in Arabic studies, was summoned to London on a minor matter. With little suspicion, George Blake returned and was arrested at the airport upon arrival back in the UK.
George Blake was found guilty of espionage against the UK, for a foreign power, and the maximum sentence for such betrayal was 14 years. However George Blake was convicted on 3 accounts with the sentences running concurrently. This amounted to 42 years and was the longest sentence to be handed out at the time. It is said he was given a year for every MI6 operative he betrayed to die.
George Blake’s story did not end here. In autumn of 1966 after a little over 5 years of his sentence, he managed a daring escape from Wormwood Scrubs with an inmate he befriended and two anti-nuclear campaigners. He moved from several safe houses while a nationwide search was made for him, but he managed to escape to the Soviet Union as a hero.
There are many who think the escape was stage managed by the British Secret Service, but no explanation has ever come to light. Just speculation at what seemed a rather cosy escape with garnished trimmings for conspiracy theory enthusiasts.
Whatever – by design, or stage managed; George Blake got away with it and lives to this day, (6th July 2014) aged 91 in the Soviet Union on a KGB pension plus many honours, including one from President Putin in 2008.
He had a book of his exploits published, which understandably caused much controversy in the UK. George Blake said he did regret the deaths of the MI6 agents but did not feel he betrayed the British because he never felt part of them. His Dutch and Egyptian birth right making him unacceptable to being loyal to Imperial Britain. Others say he was brainwashed during his capture by North Korean troops. The communist powers may have certainly played on this none British nationality of birth. Then maybe George Blake was a committed communist that turned after his capture in the Korean War. Who knows for sure.