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April 11, 2017

Kulbhushan among many high-profile spies sentenced to death

Top Story

April 11, 2017

LAHORE: Notorious Indian RAW agent, Kulbhushan Sundir Yadav alias Hussein Mubarak Patel, is not the first spy in world history to have been awarded death sentence for espionage and subversion. 

Arrested on March 3, 2016 through a Counter-Intelligence Operation from the restive Balochistan province for his alleged involvement in espionage and sabotage activities in Pakistan, Kulbhushan Yadav was tried through Field General Court Martial under the Pakistan Army Act and was subsequently given a death penalty Monday. 

The long history of espionage is ripe with the exploits of notorious spies, including women, who had met different fates, a research conducted by the Jang Group and Geo Television Network shows. 

The list that follows also includes some gutsy female spies, who had made a name for themselves at home and abroad for their compelling mixture of sex, scandal and secret dealings.  Among them was Mata Hari, who was possibly one of the most famous spies of all time and a widely-acknowledged expert at knitting “honey traps”. She was an exotic dancer and a high class prostitute in Paris who spied for Germany during World War 1. 

Margaretha Geertruida Zelle or Mata Hari (1876-1917), was hired by an army captain, Georges Ladoux, to bring military information from her German government and military clients to the French. 

Mata Hari’s gig came to a halt in January 1917, when French intelligence had intercepted a German Military Attaché-encoded radio signal to Berlin which declared that they were receiving amazing information from a German spy code-named H-21. 

Mata Hari was identified and arrested in a Paris hotel room on February 13, 1917. She was consequently executed by a firing squad on September 15, 1917 for espionage. 

Prestigious international media houses like the AFP, CBS News, Associated Press, the BBC, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the CNN and the Guardian etc have shed a lot of light on the adventures of these spies who had carried out covert, clandestine and potentially dangerous operations for their respective countries at the peril of their lives. 

Events involving espionage are well documented in the Old Testament of the Christian Bible that had mentioned about 12 spies entering the “Promised Land”, which included the territory from Egypt to the Euphrates River. 

Similarly, the ancient writings of Chinese and Indian military strategists such as Sun-Tzu and Chanakya contain a lot of information on deception, the art of espionage and subversion. 

Chanakya’s illustrious student, Chandragupta Maurya, who was the founder of the Maurya Empire in India, had also made use of spies and secret agents to consolidate its rule. 

Here follows a list of some of the spies who have been executed in modern and old history for espionage-cum-treason, both by their own respective countries and by the nations where they were operating: In May 2013, Iranian authorities had executed two men convicted of working for Israeli and American spy agencies, Iran’s Fars news agency reported. 

Mohammad Heidari, accused of passing security-related information and secrets to Israeli Mossad agents in exchange for money, and Kourosh Ahmadi, accused of gathering information for the US Central Intelligence Agency, were hanged at dawn, the “Jerusalem Post” had stated. 

In August 2016, an Iranian scientist accused of providing information on his country’s nuclear programme to the United States has been executed for espionage-cum-treason. 

The August 7, 2016 edition of the “USA Today” had stated: “Shahram Amiri was charged with spying for enemies of the Islamic Republic of Iran, spokesman Gholamhosein Mohseni-Ejei said in his weekly news conference, the Iranian Student News Agency reported. Amiri, 38, disappeared while on a pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia in 2009. He re-emerged a year later in the US, claiming in a video that he had been abducted, interrogated, tortured and offered millions in bribes while under “intense psychological pressure” by the CIA. He said he rejected the American effort to break him. The United States said in 2010 that Amiri had defected voluntarily and was paid millions of dollars for providing “useful information”. 

The afore-mentioned American media house had added: “A month later, Amiri went to the Iran interest section of the Pakistani embassy in Washington, demanding to be sent home. He drew a hero’s welcome from family members and Iranian officials upon returning to Iran but was arrested less than a year later”. 

In two-minute video posted on Syrian opposition forces’ social media accounts this week purportedly shows the aftermath of the 1965 execution of Israeli spy Eli Cohen in Damascus. The black-and-white footage shows what appears to be Cohen’s body being lowered into a coffin after he was hanged in a public square in Damascus. 

The first-ever American spy, Nathan Hale (1755-1776), had spied during the Revolutionary War in the country. He had volunteered for intelligence-gathering missions in New York, but was captured by the British and executed. 

British spy Major John Andre (1750-1780) was caught after travelling through New York in civilian clothes with a fake passport. He was alleged during the American War of Independence of being a spy for the enemy and was hanged on October 2, 1780. 

The Rosenbergs, an American married couple (Julius and Ethel Rosenberg) were American Communists who were executed in 1953 for passing nuclear secrets to the Soviet Union. They were instrumental in the transmission of information about top-secret military technology and prototypes of mechanisms related to the atomic bomb, which were of value to the Soviet nuclear weapons programme and also provided top-secret radar, sonar, and jet propulsion engines to the Soviet Union. The couple became embroiled in espionage in 1942, when Julius was recruited by the KGB. 

Julius was responsible for passing classified reports and designs to the KGB. He was assisted by his brother-in-law, Sergeant David Greenglass, who had later admitted to passing on classified information through Julius and Ethel (who typed nuclear secrets). In 1950, David Greenglass was arrested on suspicion of espionage and gave Julius’s name during his confession. 

The couple was found guilty of conspiracy to commit espionage and executed by electric chair in 1953. They were the only two American civilians to be executed for espionage during the entire Cold War. 

Andree Raymonde Borrel, the French heroine of World War II, was given a lethal injection by Hitler’s Nazi regime in Germany in July 1944, along with her three compatriots. 

It is estimated that more than 4,000 women of various ages were hanged by Nazi forces between 1939 and 1945. Many more were shot or guillotined and many were tortured before minimal or non-existent trials. 

Cecily Lefort, a British secret agent, was given death in a gas chamber during February 1945 by Hitler’s government. 

A French secret agent, Denise Madeleine Bloch, was also executed by the Germans in 1945. 

Diana Rowden, a British secret agent, was executed in a Nazi concentration camp in 1944. 

Frank Pickersgill, a Canadian hero of World War II, was executed along with 35 other British secret agents, on September 14, 1944 by the Germans. 

Noor-un-Nisa Inayat Khan, a British agent during World War II, was executed by a shot to the back of the head in September 1944. 

Although Noor, who had an Indian background, was deeply influenced by the pacifist teachings of her father, she and her brother Vilayat Khan had decided to help defeat Nazi tyranny. 

She was quoted by media as saying: “I wish some Indians would win high military distinction in this war. If one or two could do something in the Allied service which was very brave and which everybody admired it would help to make a bridge between the English people and the Indians”. 

Research shows that at least half a dozen Americans have been executed in foreign countries since 1860, a fact that dispels the myth that the long and obscure arm of law has generally been ineffective against the US citizens arrested for crimes abroad. 

These Americans were given death sentences on charges mostly related to espionage and murder. 

William Walker was the first such casualty. He was an American physician, lawyer and journalist, who had organised several private military expeditions into Latin America, with the intention of establishing English-speaking colonies under his personal control. Walker was executed by the government of Honduras in 1860. 

Prior to his execution, Walker had managed to become the president of Nicaragua in 1856 and had ruled for a year. 

Mildred Harnack was an American historian, translator and resistance fighter in Nazi Germany. While Mildred had been teaching English at the Foreign Studies Department of the University of Berlin in September 1942, she was arrested by Hitler’s Police Intelligence Agency ‘Gestapo’ and sentenced to death in January 1943. She was beheaded on February 16, 1943. Charles Horman and Frank Teruggi were two American journalists, who were the victims of the Chilean coup of 1973 led by Gen Augusto Pinochet. While Horman was seized by Chilean soldiers, interrogated, tortured and subsequently executed, Teruggi met the same fate too. 

The deaths of newsmen Teruggi and Charles Horman occurred as a part of the killings, torture and kidnappings that had taken place in Chile as the military regime of Pinochet had taken over the government in that country. 

Hawley Crippen, an American homeopathic physician, was hanged in a London prison in November 1910 for the murder of his wife, Cora Henrietta. During World War I, some 11 German spies were executed in the Tower of London. 

In 1916, Russia had hanged Taavetti Lukkarinen (a citizen of Finland) for espionage and high treason. In 1969, a number of Jews accused of spying were hanged in Syria. 

In 1993, Jordan had hanged two Jordanians convicted of spying for Israel. In 1955, Egypt hanged three Israelis on charges of spying. In 1965, an Israeli spy, Eli Cohen, was awarded capital punishment for espionage in Damascus. 

By the way, some lucky spies have succeeded in getting away with their illegal deeds, as was the case with a Russian spy— Alexander Kuzmin — who was caught red-handed buying German military secrets in 2005 — but had managed to escape trial. 

Prestigious British newspaper “The Telegraph” had reported on April 24, 2005, “a Russian spy who was caught red handed buying German military secrets has escaped prosecution after a deal was struck to prevent the breakdown of burgeoning relations between Berlin and the Kremlin. One of the most blatant acts of Russian espionage in Germany since the Cold War has come to light two weeks after Chancellor Gerhard Schroder and Russia’s President, Vladimir Putin, signed a historic multi-billion dollar trade deal”. 

The newspaper wrote, “Alexander Kuzmin was ostensibly a consul who oversaw the issue of travel visas at the Russian consulate in Hamburg. In reality, he was a member of the Kremlin’s military intelligence branch. German counter-espionage agents established that on at least 20 occasions, Kuzmin travelled to remote bars around Heidelberg to meet a German army official who offered to sell military information in exchange for payment”. 

It is imperative to note that many secret agents accused of espionage were either tortured to death by the authorities concerned in foreign jails or had opted to commit suicides rather than be treated mercilessly. 


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