June 29, 2005

British traitor helped speed up Soviet nuclear development

British woman who gave Soviets nuclear secrets dies at 93 (link)
Melita Norwood, who passed on secrets to the Soviet Union believed to have helped them speed up development of the atomic bomb, died earlier this month at the age of 93, her daughter said.

Anita Ferguson said her mother died on June 2 but declined to comment further.

Described as the most important British female agent recruited by the KGB intelligence service, Norwood spied under the codename "Hola" and passed British nuclear secrets to the Soviet Union in the years after World War II.

Norwood's activities were finally exposed when KGB archivist Vasili Mitrokhin defected to Britain in 1992, bringing thousands of files he had meticulously copied.

The supporter of Soviet-style communism spied for almost 40 years while a secretary at the British Non-Ferrous Metals Research Association, handing over details of the project to build Britain's first atomic bomb.

She took top secret documents from the Tube Alloys project -- the cover name for the nuclear weapons programme -- copied them and passed them to her KGB handlers.

The information she passed to Stalin's government is said to have helped the Soviets build an atomic bomb two or three years earlier than they otherwise would.

Her security clearance was revoked in 1951 because of concerns that she might be a spy.

But after she was publicly unmasked in 1999 she said idealism, not money, had inspired her.

After she was exposed as a spy, Britain's Security Service MI5 was strongly criticized by the parliamentary committee overseeing the intelligence agencies over the failure to prosecute her.

Yea, um, thanks for betraying the Free World, "Hola."

Posted by Kyer at June 29, 2005 01:06 PM