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Foreshadowing of post-Sept. 11?

CIA admits to detaining a Soviet spy, hostile interrogation, in 1960s.

June 27, 2007|Bob Drogin | Times Staff Writer

The international controversy over the CIA's role in running extrajudicial prisons and reputedly harshly interrogating terrorism suspects overseas since the Sept. 11 attacks may have been foreshadowed by an infamous case described in "the family jewels" documents released Tuesday.

In 1962, the CIA recruited a Soviet intelligence officer named Yuri Ivanovich Nosenko in Geneva. After serving as a CIA spy for two years, Nosenko said that he wanted to defect, and that he had personal knowledge about the KGB's file on presidential assassin Lee Harvey Oswald. He was flown to Washington a week later.

According to an undated, unsigned memo, the CIA confined and interrogated Nosenko until August 1965 in a Maryland safe house. Then he was moved to a "specially constructed 'jail' " in a remote area, the files show.

Interrogators at the time were convinced that Nosenko was a double-agent, and questions persist today. But after "a long period of hostile interrogation," Nosenko never changed his core story -- that the KGB played no role in President Kennedy's assassination.

Concerned about its treatment of Nosenko, the agency moved him in 1967, giving him his freedom soon after.

"It soon became apparent that Nosenko was bona fide," according to the memo, which goes on to say that the Russian was given a new identity, put on the CIA payroll and married an American.

It quotes Nosenko: "While I regret my three years of incarceration, I have no bitterness and now understand how it could happen."

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