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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Spy Blake Feted on 80th Birthday

APFormer MI6 spy George Blake speaking on Rossia television on Monday evening.
George Blake, a British agent who escaped from prison and made his way to Moscow after he was convicted of spying for the KGB, said in a rare interview that the emergence of terrorism has made the world a more perilous place than it was during the Cold War.

Blake's comments Monday came in a fawning report broadcast by state-run Rossia television on the 80th birthday of the former spy, who was responsible for the deaths of several British agents he identified to the Soviets while working for the MI6 in Berlin and Beirut.

"The situation has become more dangerous, because the new enemy is more treacherous than in the past," Blake said at the headquarters of the Foreign Intelligence Service on the outskirts of Moscow, where the report said Blake has been given an office.

"Before, there were two sides that confronted each other openly. They were predictable," he said, speaking in accented Russian.

"And now, as we know, peaceful citizens anywhere in the world can come under a sudden strike.

"In the time of the Cold War, the peaceful citizens of New York and Moscow did not suffer," he said, apparently referring to last year's attack on the World Trade Center and the Moscow theater raid last month.

Intentionally or not, Blake's comments fit in with the stance of President Vladimir Putin, who has portrayed Russia's war against Chechen rebels as part of the international campaign against terrorism.

Blake said relations between the authorities and intelligence agents were close in the Soviet area and are close again today.

Blake, who holds the rank of colonel, was presented with flowers and a medal for services to the Foreign Intelligence Service and a warm greeting from its chief, Sergei Lebedev, who called him "our faithful comrade."

"I know how you love your native country, Great Britain, and I know how you love Russia, where you have lived for 36 years," Lebedev said.

Blake was sent to Korea by British intelligence in 1949, where he was captured by invading North Korean forces. He then began working for Soviet intelligence. He was arrested back in Britain in 1960, pleaded guilty the following year and was sentenced to 42 years in prison.

He escaped from prison at Wormwood Scrubbs in 1966 and later turned up in Moscow, where he was awarded the Order of Lenin.

"Blake is an example for all intelligence agents, for several generations of agents," former Soviet foreign intelligence chief Leonid Shebarshin said in comments preceding the interview on Rossia, whose anchor called Blake a "legendary Soviet spy."

"Thanks in part to Blake, the activities of English intelligence were for us practically an open book," said Shebarshin, who mentioned Blake's betrayal of a secret Western tunnel under East Berlin.

Blake said he works for Moscow's Institute of World Economy and International Relations, mostly doing translations, and loves to read, particularly history, but added that his wife, Ida, often reads aloud to him now because of his worsening eyesight.

"The years I spent in Russia have been the happiest years of my life, because that's how it worked out -- fate had it that way," Blake said in the interview.

"I feel here -- among colleagues, among comrades and neighbors at home and at the dacha -- they give me the feeling that I am one of them," he said.