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George Trofimoff

Trofimoff's FBI mugshot
Born 1928 Germany
Charge(s) Espionage
Penalty Life Imprisonment
Status Incarcerated
Occupation US Army Intelligence Officer

George Trofimoff was the highest ranking US military officer ever charged with, and convicted of, espionage by the United States. He was sentenced to life imprisonment on September 27, 2001.

Contents

Background

Trofimoff was born in Germany around 1928 to Russian émigrés, and became a naturalized United States citizen in 1951. He enlisted in the United States Army in 1948 and received a commission in the United States Army Reserve in 1953. He was honorably discharged from active duty in the United States Army in 1956, and retired from the United States Army Reserve with the rank of Colonel in 1987. From 1959 through 1994, Trofimoff was employed by the United States Army as a civilian working in military intelligence, serving primarily in Germany.

Espionage

Throughout his career with the United States Army, Trofimoff held SECRET and TOP SECRET clearances, and received periodic briefings in handling classified information. In or about 1969, George Trofimoff became the Chief of the United States Army Element at the Nuremberg Joint Interrogation Center (JIC). Therefore, as Chief of the United States Army Element at the Nuremberg JIC, Trofimoff had access to all classified information, including documents, received by and produced by the United States Army Element.

His indictment document says[1] that "in or about 1969, after the defendant GEORGE TROFIMOFF became the Chief of the United States Army Element at the Nuernberg JIC", Igor Vladimirovich Susemihl (a.k.a. Zuzemihl), a boyhood friend of Trofimoff's and also a priest in the Russian Orthodox Church (subsequently, a high-ranking bishop - the ROC Metropolitan Iriney of Vienna, who died in July 1999[2]), "recruited him into the service of the KGB". The Indictment points out that the KGB exploited the Russian Orthodox Church, representing the Eastern Orthodox Christian church within the Soviet Union, including clergy, both within the Soviet Union and abroad in furtherance of the missions of the KGB. The Russian Orthodox Church was used to subjugate the people by the Communists beginning in 1917, when more than 200,000 priests, bishops and nuns were killed and replaced with KGB agents.[3]

Trofimoff was raised in Germany with Susemihl, who was also the son of Russian émigrés, and supposedly considered Susemihl to be his "brother." Beginning during the 1960s, Trofimoff and Susemihl met often and maintained a close personal relationship.

Trofimoff allegedly took documents from his work and photographed them, passing the film on to Susemihl and other KGB officers during meetings in Austria.

On 14 June 2000, Trofimoff, by this time a retired Army Reserve colonel, was charged with spying for the Soviet Union and the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (or SVR) for 25 years. Trofimoff allegedly sold classified material to the Russians while serving as the civilian chief of the U.S. Army Element of the Nuremberg Joint Interrogation Center in Germany from 1969 to 1994. He retired from his Army civilian job in 1995.

The FBI and prosecutors alleged that Trofimoff was paid $250,000 over the course of his spy career, and was awarded the Order of the Red Banner for "bravery and self-sacrifice in the defense of the socialist homeland."

Prosecution and trial

In 1992, a Soviet KGB clerk named Vasili Mitrokhin defected and claimed that one of the U.S. interrogation centers was being compromised by a spy. He handed over KGB records that showed stolen American secrets that exceeded 80 volumes - 50,000 pages taken over 25 years. Mitrokhin didn’t have a name, but he was able to produce a vague sketch of the traitor. Furthermore, the Soviet files he delivered described the spy as a “career American intelligence officer," and the courier who carried the secrets was a "clergyman" in the Russian Orthodox church.

In 1994 Trofimoff, along with Met Iriney of Vienna, was arrested and held briefly by German authorities based on the mentioned sketch; they were both released due to the expired Statute of limitations. After this short vindication, he left Germany to retire in Tampa, Florida.

On July 10, 1997, an undercover FBI agent, Igor Galkin, wrote and phoned from the Russian embassy repeatedly seeking a meeting with Trofimoff and offering him money. After years of gentle persuasion and recorded meetings in a motel, Trofimoff finally discussed his past services for the KGB and his hopes for future compensation, Trofimoff agreed to meet Igor in Tampa to receive $20,000. He was then arrested for espionage by the FBI on arrival and has been in jail ever since. Trofimoff later recanted his admissions of espionage saying he only made himself out to be a spy in order to obtain money from Galkin whom he believed to be a legitimate servant of the Russian Orthodox Church. He implied that he believed Galkin would only help him only if he, Trofimoff, were in such a dire situation.

U.S. Attorney for Florida, Donna Bucella, "declined to estimate the damage wrought" by Trofimoff's suspected spying, stating that "several factors suggested a major security breach, including the sensitivity of the Nuremberg center, a NATO facility staffed by Germans, British, French and Americans;... Trofimoff's clearance to view virtually any documents, and his longevity in the job."

His court trial was unprecedented in that a witness for the prosecution was the former KGB general Oleg Kalugin, who had been a field officer posted in the US and later head of the foreign counterintelligence, or K branch, of the KGB First Chief Directorate, who told the jury the names of KGB agents who worked with Trofimoff. They were the same names Trofimoff remembered in one of those phone calls with Igor Galkin.

On 26 June 2001, a jury at a federal court in Florida convicted Trofimoff of spying for the Soviet Union and Russia for over at least 25 years. He was given a life sentence.

Trofimoff says he has always been a loyal army officer who spent his career defending his country and calls himself "a patriot that served this country for 46 years and a half or 47 years." Trofimoff maintains his innocence.

Other notable American moles

Other Agents in place in the US Government or Military who worked as a Mole for either the KGB or the SVR, include:

  • James Hall III - An Army warrant officer and intelligence analyst in Germany who sold eavesdropping and code secrets to East Germany and the Soviet Union from 1983 to 1988.
  • Aldrich Ames - A CIA mole charged with providing highly classified information since 1985 to the Soviet Union and then Russia.
  • Robert Hanssen - Arrested for spying for the Soviet Union and Russia for more than 15 years of his 27 years with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
  • Earl Edwin Pitts - An FBI agent charged with providing Top Secret documents to the Soviet Union and then Russia from 1987 until 1992.
  • Harold James Nicholson - A senior-ranking Central Intelligence Agency officer arrested while attempting to take Top Secret documents out of the country. He began spying for Russia in 1994.

Footnotes

  1. ^ George Trofimoff Affidavit
  2. ^ Ириней (Зуземиль) Biography information on the web-site of the ROC
  3. ^ http://www.thefreelibrary.com/Christians+and+the+Communist+terror-a078398845

See also

External links and references

  • CIA Centre [1]
  • The Literature of Intelligence - Muskingum College[2]
  • CBS News Article "The Perfect Spy." [3]
  • CIA Bookshelf [4]
  • Audio indictment (CNN) read by U.S. Attorney Donna Bucella [5]
  • Retired U.S. Army Reserve colonel accused of selling secrets to Soviet Union (CNN) [6]
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