Saturday, 23 March 2019

Czech Television: Czechoslovak intelligence contacted Briton Pravda

7 March 2018

Prague, March 6 (CTK) - Former Czechoslovak communist secret service (StB) officer Jan Sarkocy was in contact not only with Jeremy Corbyn, the current British Labour leader, but also with Jan Pravda, Specialist Adviser to the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, Czech Television (CT) said on Tuesday.

In mid-February, the British paper Sun accused Corbyn of cooperation with the StB. Corbyn has denied the allegation.

Pravda's contact with Sarkocy was much more intensive as they had 12 meetings, CT said.

Pravda said he was staggered at hearing that Sarkocy had proposed him as a potential agent.

Sarkocy even denoted him as the first adviser to former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher with links not only to the top politics and ministries, but also the British MI6 and MI5 intelligence services.

Petr Blazek, a historian from the Institute for the Studies of Totalitarian Regimes, said the contact could have been behind Sarkocy's later expulsion from Britain.

Working with the cover name Dymic, Sarkocy had a diplomatic cover.

In the second half of the 1980s, he worked at the Czechoslovak embassy in London as its third secretary.

He is likely to have prompted the first meeting with Pravda, to whom Czechoslovak secret service StB gave the cover name Rave, in spring 1987, CT said.

According to Sarkocy's reports, they had ten more meetings during the next 25 months.

"Rave is aware of the fact that his information helps the Czechoslovak organisation,“ Sarkocy wrote in one of them.

Blazek said Sarkocy's reports had to be approached very critically. Obviously, he exaggerated the reports to his superiors.

Blazek said some indirect evidence questioned the role ascribed to Pravda.

The classified file Number 49651 has roughly 100 pages. It includes the information that Pravda got to Britain when he was six along with his Czech-born parents.

In mid-March 1987, Sarkocy contacted Pravda after his lecture in the RIIA institute.

After their meeting, he sent a report to the Prague centre: „Rave is ready to meet and provide his views of the Soviet foreign policy. I deliberately timed the meeting for the period after Thatcher's return from Moscow in order to gain reactions.“

His superiors warned him that he should be cautious.

CT said there was one argument against Pravda's collaboration with the StB. After Sarkocy's expulsion he continued with his successful academic career and published his books.

In short, the documents only prove that Sarkocy only gained a single contact in Britain who was ready to meet him regularly. This finished with his expulsion a few months later, CT said.

Pravda told CT that at that time, as the head of the RIIA Soviet foreign policy programme, he had a contact with many diplomats, primarily from the Soviet Embassy and some Eastern European embassies.

He said it had been routinely presumed that any information disclosed at meetings with Communist diplomats would be immediately passed to "hostile" intelligence services.

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