Spy Swap Puzzler
Nigel West's head-scratching claim that Gennady Vasilenko was a longtime CIA mole inside the KGB
Nigel West, the prolific true-espionage author (over 30 titles on British intel services!) is widely recognized as one of the experts in the genre. However, I fear his latest contribution may regrettably be West’s “jump the shark” moment, as he ventures into the across-the-pond labyrinth of America’s own repository of riddles, the CIA. I say regrettably because I was so looking forward to this book, having covered much of the same ground myself in one of my own. Full disclosure: in 2018, I co-authored Best of Enemies: The Last Great Spy Story of the Cold War with Eric Dezenhall.
Both our books concern the story of KGB agent Gennady Vasilenko, whom the KGB imprisoned in 2005 after monitoring his close friendship with CIA officer Jack Platt for almost three decades. Vasilenko, whom the KGB suspected of orchestrating the final act in the 2001 takedown of longtime FBI Russian mole Robert Hanssen, was eventually traded back to the U.S. in the famous 2010 “spy swap” exchange of 10 Russian “i…