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John Cairncross
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Spy
    (July 25, 1913-October 8, 1995)
    Born in Lesmahagow, Scotland, United Kingdom
    Worked in the military's General Communications Headquarters, MI6 (British foreign intelligence) and the Treasury
    'Fifth man' in the Cambridge Soviet spy ring
    Documents in his handwriting were discovered in the apartment of Cambridge Five member Guy Burgess after Burgess fled to the Soviet Union (1951)
    Admitted to providing the documents while claiming to be unaware Burgess was a spy and resigned from the Treasury
    Was identified as a spy by Anthony Blunt (1964)
    Confessed after being confronted with Blunt's accusation
    The attitude between him and the other members of the Cambridge Five was one of mutual loathing.
    He infuriated his Soviet handlers with his lack of punctuality and his inability to work a microfilm camera.
    He may have been the first spy to give the Soviets information about the atom bomb project.
    He claimed to have stopped providing intelligence to the Soviets when World War II ended, but handler Yuri Modin claimed he continued until his 1951 exposure.
    His 1964 confession was covered up and he escaped punishment.
    His identity as a spy went unpublicized outside the intelligence community for over a decade.
    A month before his death, he married an opera singer less than half his age.
    He was described by 'The Independent' as 'a testament to the misconceived idealism among Britain's intelligentsia in the 1930s.'
    He achieved the highest score on the British civil service exam.
    Ironically, much of the intelligence he passed to the Soviets during WWII -- namely, German battle plans -- was information the British government was already trying to get into Soviet hands through other channels.
    Thanks to Joseph Stalin's paranoia, he refused to believe the information the British were sending him until it was confirmed by Cairncross.
    He provided information that the Soviets used to defeat Nazi Germany in the critical Battle of Kursk (1943).
    In his later life, he became a translator and expert on French authors, especially Moliere.

Credit: C. Fishel


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