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Soviet agent Abel's illegal ring in Latin America uncovered in new book

RIA Novosti

18:10 02/12/2010 MOSCOW, December 2 (RIA Novosti, Maria Kuchma) - Soviet atom spy Vilyam Fisher, known by the alias Rudolf Abel, headed up a group of "illegal" spies in Latin America in addition to the well known Soviet nuclear intelligence network in the United States, the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) revealed on Thursday.

"The man under the pseudonym Mark [Abel's alias] - and this was never reported before - was heading the Soviet illegal [spy] network involving former soldiers, who were working in Latin America," the SVR said in a statement on the release of a new book, Abel-Fisher, about the Soviet agent, which is due to appear later in the month.

Abel, who illegally entered the United States in 1947 and opened an artist's studio in Brooklyn, was arrested by the FBI in 1957, after being betrayed by his courier. He was sentenced to 30 years in prison for espionage, but was later exchanged for American U-2 spy plane pilot Francis Gary Powers. After his return to Moscow, Abel continued to work as a trainer for the KGB and was rewarded with the Order of Lenin.

Russian intelligence history expert Alexander Kolpakidi dismissed the SVR's "sensation" as just "eyewash."

"It is common knowledge. After WWII, a network responsible for sabotage in case of [a new] war was created, and Abel, who was employed by the NKVD during the war, was supervising it. Soviet diversionists were working in Latin America, as well as in NATO territory," Kolpakidi said, adding that many books have been written on the issue.

Many Soviet intelligence officers are much more worthy of being glorified than Abel, who was a simple radio operator, "the eleventh out of the ten best" officers, Kolpakidi said.

"Probably they [the SVR] are afraid of saying too much. They have had enough anxieties over the past few years, and probably they got an order not to uncover anything, that is why they are trying to make sensations of old, well-known things," he said.

SVR press secretary Sergei Ivanov said on Thursday the "revealed" information could probably have been published by journalists before, but no official reports about Abel's activities in Latin America had been made.

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