George Blake, a former British intelligence officer who worked as a double agent for the Soviet Union, has died in Russia, per the AP. He was 98. Russia's Foreign Intelligence Service, known as SVR, announced his death Saturday in a statement, which didn't give any details. Russian President Vladimir Putin hailed Blake as a “brilliant professional” and a man of “remarkable courage." “He made a truly invaluable contribution to ensuring strategic parity and preserving peace,” Putin said. Blake has lived in Russia since his daring escape from a British prison in 1966. Blake joined British intelligence during World War II. He was posted to Korea when the war there erupted in 1950. In a 2017 statement through SVR, Blake said that he decided to switch sides after seeing civilians massacred by the “American military machine.”
As a double agent, Blake passed some of the most coveted British secrets to the Soviet Union, including a Western plan to eavesdrop on Soviet communications from an underground tunnel into East Berlin. He also exposed scores of British agents in Soviet bloc countries in Eastern Europe. A Polish defector exposed Blake as a Soviet spy in 1961. He was sentenced to 42 years in prison. Blake spent two months hiding at his assistant’s place and was then driven across Europe to East Berlin inside a wooden box attached under a car. His British wife, whom he left behind along with their three children, divorced him, and he married a Soviet woman and they had a son. He was feted as a hero, decorated with top medals, and given a country house outside Moscow.
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