Thursday, June 30, 2016

The Czech Spy's Menorah

From a story on a spy:

Retired, Koecher takes daily exercise in the nearby forest. Hana still works, arranging seminars that bring together construction professionals and professors from technical schools. Their upstairs study includes a menorah, a hefty collection of books on the history of espionage and texts on philosophy and logic, among other topics.

A menorah?

Born in 1934 in Bratislava, the capital of today’s Slovakia, Koecher’s mother Irena was a Slovak Jew

Who was he?

Karel Koecher, the only foreign agent ever known to have infiltrated the CIA.  Koecher was a Czech citizen who had been living undercover in the US for 21 years. Alternately codenamed Rino, Turian or Pedro, he had moved to America in 1965 to establish himself as a mole within the CIA. Koecher’s KGB case officer, Colonel Alexander Sokolov, would later call him a super-spy.


In the meantime, Hana was working in the diamond trade and the Koechers accumulated wealth. Their nightlife picked up and they began attending swinger and spouse-swapping parties. The swinging spies became the stuff of lore after a colourful 1988 book by former Washington Post journalist Ronald Kessler, but Koecher downplayed the relevance such extracurricular activities had in his work, as have former Czech and Russian intelligence officials.“It’s not so popular now, but a lot of people were doing it then,” he said.

Oh, and

In December 1983, Koecher and Fila held a meeting in a Vienna sauna. Koecher suggested establishing NGOs as a means of conducting intelligence work – an idea presented as almost absurd in the StB files but common practice in 21st century spycraft. According to the StB the year “ended well”, but 1984 would not.

Koecher had his lawyer take a letter to the Soviets, which ended up on KGB chief Kryuchov’s desk. “It simply said that my life is threatened. They can’t convict me,” Koecher said. “I suggested that they trade me for Sharansky.”



L. King said...

Fascinating account. Currently involved with other reading but this has piqued my interest in spycraft. I have "Shula: Code Name The Pearl" sitting on my shelf at the moment. Perhaps you are familiar with this?

YMedad said...

I met her personally many times