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Notorious British traitor George Blake has died, Russian foreign intelligence has announced today (December 26).
The 98-year-old spy had been living in Moscow since he escaped from Wormwood Scrubs in 1966.
"The bitter news has come – the legendary George Blake is gone,” said Sergey Ivanov, spokesman for the SVR foreign intelligence agency, formerly the KGB.
“He died of old age, his heart stopped.”
Blake was sentenced to a record 42-year jail sentence in London in 1961 for spilling MI6 secrets to the Soviet Union, sending dozens of Western agents to their deaths.
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He went on the run after climbing over the London prison’s wall in 1966, soon after England won the World Cup.
Later, he crossed into East Berlin and into the hands of his grateful Soviet spymasters.
Blake marked his 98th birthday last month with a message from spymaster Sergey Naryshkin who said: “From the chiefs of SVR and me personally please accept warm and sincere wishes.”
At his death he was the oldest KGB veteran.
Visually impaired in his latter years, he continued to “spy” on Britain by tuning into BBC radio, said friends.
The British traitor had been holed up at his dacha – country house – near Moscow which was a gift of the KGB amid efforts to keep him safe from coronavirus.
Despite being a fugitive from justice in Britain since 1966, he kept in contact with the three sons he deserted when he fled to Moscow via East Berlin.
Earlier this year Ivanov had said: "George Blake walks a lot in the fresh air, listens to his favourite classical music, regularly communicates with relatives and friends on the phone, and consults his physicians remotely…
“The SVR is in constant remote contact with him and his relatives, and provides health monitoring for this honoured person.”
In Soviet times, Dutch-born Blake was awarded with the Order of Lenin and Order of the Red Banner.
Rossiyskaya Gazeta said his latest honour from Moscow was as “patriarch of Russian foreign intelligence.”
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