|"Albort's Photos of RFE Staff|
Reposted from June 16, 2011
The 1980s witnessed a new generation of intelligence agents at RFE/RL in Munich. For example, "Albort", who was born in 1956, said that he volunteered to work as a "spy" for the First Administration of the Czechoslovak intelligence service SNB (Foreign Intelligence) shortly after the return of former employee and spy Pavel Minarik in 1976. He was looking for adventure and was intrigued by the Minarik story about how he had spied at RFE from 1968 to 1976.
"Albort" stated that he was then trained in " spy craft " from 1978 to '82, with interruptions while he traveled abroad as a musician for Czechoslovak musical groups. At one point, to establish his credentials in the West, under the SNB supervision, he brought out supposed samizdat documents and handed them over to an emigre writer living in West Germany, who wrote an article from the material he received.
His defection to the West in October 1982 was carefully pre-arranged: he "defected" in Italy while on tour with the Czech symphony orchestra, took the train to Vienna, where he was picked up by an emigre writer, who had traveled from Germany. He was then brought to Salzburg, Austria, where he applied for political asylum at the German-Austrian border, and eventually settled in Munich
For four years (1984-88), while employed as a freelancer, "Albort" reported on any and all activities of RFE/RL's Czechoslovak Broadcast Service and emigres living in Germany. He met at least 23 times with his intelligence handlers, who were "diplomats" out of the Czechoslovak Embassy in Bonn. "Albort" was paid about DM 25,000 for his information.
The purpose of "Albort's" preparations and training in the CSSR, and traveling to meet with emigres in the West, was to get him ready to join Radio Free Europe. From here he would supply the Czechoslovak intelligence service with internal documents, personal information about and photographs of RFE's staff and various emigre groups. According to "Albort", his intelligence handlers were already familiar with what was happening in RFE's Czechoslovak Service and asked him questions, which "Albort" took to mean that they were asking for verification about what they were already had been told from other sources, both in and outside RFE/RL:
Besides the previously to the previously mentioned documents, which I passed on to my contact officer, I also passed him personal notes and information about people who worked in the Czech. Dept. or belonged to Czech. emigre groups outside RFE. It was part of my tasking to collect all information, personal and professional about these people. Additionally, I received specific concrete tasking from either "Vladimir" or "Ludek" (Czech Intelligence controlling officers) to gather additional information about particular people in whom they were interested.
"Albort" was not encouraged to work full-time for RFE/RL but only work as a freelancer, who therefore would then not be under any sort of supervisory control and who would be free to come and go as he wanted, including Sundays (when he apparently was most active). "Albort" admitted stealing RFE/RL stationary and envelopes, which were then used as "anonymous" letters against the former RFE Czechoslovak Broadcast Service director and other employees of that service in 1988.
In September 1988, "Albort" admitted to German authorities that he had been a "spy" and wanted to stop and live a normal life. He said he wanted to stop two years earlier but that his Czechoslovak intelligence handlers refused to let him. He gave details of his activities at RFE:
With my admission to Radio Free Europe, all accessible reports such as monthly overviews (Eastern European reports from the Western Media), messages/notes from telephone calls (telephone calls from news services would re recorded on tape and transcribed during the day), and all information from (about) co-workers, especially about Czechs, but also about Americans was collected and written down and passed on to my controlling officer "Vladimir" in accordance with my tasking from the Czechoslovak Intelligence Service.
The above tasking was done as follows: At RFE, as a free-lance employee, I received a (mail) box in the hall of the Czechoslovak Department in which monthly overviews and news service communications were placed. Thus, I was able to drop by and pick up the written materials anytime, despite whether I had a contract or not. Also, I collected all information that I discovered about co-workers. I deliberately allowed myself to be invited to other's employees' residences and would observe my surroundings and make a mental note of everything that was said. At home I would then transcribe everything to pass it on to my controlling officer. So it was that I tried to have contact with everyone at RFE and carefully listened to everything that was said.
His trial ended in June 1989: he was found guilty and placed on probation for 2 years. The reason for the "light sentence" was that there was no evidence of any specific "damage" as a result of his activities, and the fact that he turned himself in and cooperated with German authorities.