Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

James Jesus Angleton: CIA Spy Hunter

Thrown to the Wolves

Map showing South Africa
Map showing South Africa

In 1966, the KGB sent Loginov to South Africa, to pose as a Canadian businessman of Lithuanian heritage. His orders were to establish himself there and ultimately emigrate to the United States. On the flight to Johannesburg, he carried a hollow coin containing microfilm with all his crucial information on it.

Though Loginov was still feeding information to the CIA, Angleton deemed him a danger and leaked to the South African authorities that he was a KGB illegal. Angleton deliberately neglected to inform the South Africans that Loginov had been working for the Americans, and held out the additional lure that they could take all the credit for catching a top-echelon spy. The South Africans jumped at the bait.

South African authorities arrested Loginov and interrogated him, but despite his soft appearance, he would not break and refused to confess to anything. The South Africans kept him in solitary confinement for a year. They did not have any officers who spoke Russian, so the CIA's Soviet Division helpfully sent three of their own people, hoping that Loginov might loosen up if he was interrogated in his native language. What these three officers didn't know was that Angleton suspected them of being moles, and so he arranged to have their sessions with Loginov secretly recorded so that he could analyze what was said, looking for coded communication between the "moles" and the "provocation."

Despite intense interrogation sessions, Loginov remained tight-lipped and admitted to nothing. This put Angleton in a bind. If the South Africans let Loginov go, he could repeat his claim that Nosenko was not a fraud and possibly provide evidence to support it. Angleton could not allow that to happen, so once again he pulled strings, this time arranging for Loginov to be traded back to the Soviet Union in a multiple spy swap between East and West Germany. After two years in custody, Loginov's South African handlers escorted him to Frankfurt, where he was handed over to West German authorities. Loginov begged his case officer for mercy, fearing what the KGB would do to him. His pleas were ignored and the spy swap was made.

One unconfirmed report from Moscow said that Loginov had been court-martialed and executed as a traitor. But another report claimed that the KGB never learned of his defection and cooperation with the CIA. They simply fired him and shipped him off to Gorky, where he became an English teacher.

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