George Trofimoff

George Trofimoff

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George Trofimoff was the highest ranking US military officer ever charged with, and convicted
Conviction
In law, a conviction is the verdict that results when a court of law finds a defendant guilty of a crime.The opposite of a conviction is an acquittal . In Scotland and in the Netherlands, there can also be a verdict of "not proven", which counts as an acquittal...

 of, espionage
Espionage
Espionage or spying involves an individual obtaining information that is considered secret or confidential without the permission of the holder of the information. Espionage is inherently clandestine, lest the legitimate holder of the information change plans or take other countermeasures once it...

 by the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. He was sentenced to life imprisonment
Life imprisonment
Life imprisonment is a sentence of imprisonment for a serious crime under which the convicted person is to remain in jail for the rest of his or her life...

 on September 27, 2001.

Background


Trofimoff was born in Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 around 1928 to Russian émigrés, and became a naturalized United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 citizen in 1951. He enlisted in the United States Army
United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

 in 1948 and received a commission in the United States Army Reserve in 1953. He was honorably discharged from active duty in the United States Army in 1956, and retired from the United States Army Reserve with the rank of Colonel in 1987. From 1959 through 1994, Trofimoff was employed by the United States Army as a civilian working in military intelligence
Military intelligence
Military intelligence is a military discipline that exploits a number of information collection and analysis approaches to provide guidance and direction to commanders in support of their decisions....

, serving primarily in Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

.

Espionage


Throughout his career with the United States Army
United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

, Trofimoff held SECRET and TOP SECRET clearances, and received periodic briefings in handling classified information. In or about 1969, George Trofimoff became the Chief of the United States Army Element at the Nuremberg Joint Interrogation Center (JIC). Therefore, as Chief of the United States Army Element at the Nuremberg JIC, Trofimoff had access to all classified information, including documents, received by and produced by the United States Army Element.

His indictment document says that "in or about 1969, after the defendant GEORGE TROFIMOFF became the Chief of the United States Army Element at the Nuernberg JIC", Igor Vladimirovich Susemihl (a.k.a. Zuzemihl), a boyhood friend of Trofimoff's and also, under the monastic name of Iriney, a bishop
Bishop
A bishop is an ordained or consecrated member of the Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight. Within the Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox Churches, in the Assyrian Church of the East, in the Independent Catholic Churches, and in the...

 in the Russian Orthodox Church
Russian Orthodox Church
The Russian Orthodox Church or, alternatively, the Moscow Patriarchate The ROC is often said to be the largest of the Eastern Orthodox churches in the world; including all the autocephalous churches under its umbrella, its adherents number over 150 million worldwide—about half of the 300 million...

 (auxiliary bishop
Auxiliary bishop
An auxiliary bishop, in the Roman Catholic Church, is an additional bishop assigned to a diocese because the diocesan bishop is unable to perform his functions, the diocese is so extensive that it requires more than one bishop to administer, or the diocese is attached to a royal or imperial office...

 of Munich
Munich
Munich The city's motto is "" . Before 2006, it was "Weltstadt mit Herz" . Its native name, , is derived from the Old High German Munichen, meaning "by the monks' place". The city's name derives from the monks of the Benedictine order who founded the city; hence the monk depicted on the city's coat...

 and West Germany
West Germany
West Germany is the common English, but not official, name for the Federal Republic of Germany or FRG in the period between its creation in May 1949 to German reunification on 3 October 1990....

 at the time, but later the Metropolitan
Metropolitan
Metropolitan may refer to:* A metropolis* A metropolitan area* A metropole, "mother country", or central part of a colonizing state* Metropolitan bishop or archbishop, leader of an ecclesiastical "mother see"...

 of Vienna
Vienna
Vienna is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Austria and one of the nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's primary city, with a population of about 1.723 million , and is by far the largest city in Austria, as well as its cultural, economic, and political centre...

 from 1975 to his death in 1999), "recruited him into the service of the KGB". The Indictment points out that the KGB exploited the Russian Orthodox Church
Russian Orthodox Church
The Russian Orthodox Church or, alternatively, the Moscow Patriarchate The ROC is often said to be the largest of the Eastern Orthodox churches in the world; including all the autocephalous churches under its umbrella, its adherents number over 150 million worldwide—about half of the 300 million...

, representing the Eastern Orthodox Christian church within the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

, including clergy, both within the Soviet Union and abroad in furtherance of the missions of the KGB.

Trofimoff was raised in Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 with Susemihl, who was also the son of Russian émigrés, and supposedly considered Susemihl to be his "brother." Beginning during the 1960s, Trofimoff and Susemihl met often and maintained a close personal relationship.

Trofimoff allegedly took documents from his work and photographed them, passing the film on to Susemihl and other KGB officers during meetings in Austria.

On 14 June 2000, Trofimoff, by this time a retired Army Reserve colonel, was charged with spying for the Soviet Union and the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (or SVR) for 25 years. Trofimoff allegedly sold classified material to the Russians while serving as the civilian chief of the U.S. Army Element of the Nuremberg Joint Interrogation Center in Germany from 1969 to 1994. He retired from his Army civilian job in 1995.

The FBI and prosecutors alleged that Trofimoff was paid $250,000 over the course of his spy career, and was awarded the Order of the Red Banner
Order of the Red Banner
The Soviet government of Russia established the Order of the Red Banner , a military decoration, on September 16, 1918 during the Russian Civil War...

 for "bravery and self-sacrifice in the defense of the socialist homeland."

Prosecution and trial


In 1992, a Soviet KGB
KGB
The KGB was the commonly used acronym for the . It was the national security agency of the Soviet Union from 1954 until 1991, and was the premier internal security, intelligence, and secret police organization during that time.The State Security Agency of the Republic of Belarus currently uses the...

 agent named Vasili Mitrokhin
Vasili Mitrokhin
Vasili Nikitich Mitrokhin was a Major and senior archivist for the Soviet Union's foreign intelligence service, the First Chief Directorate of the KGB, and co-author with Christopher Andrew of The Mitrokhin Archive: The KGB in Europe and the West, a massive account of Soviet intelligence...

 defected and claimed that one of the U.S. interrogation centers was being compromised by a spy. He handed over KGB records that showed stolen American secrets that exceeded 80 volumes - 50,000 pages taken over 25 years. Mitrokhin didn’t have a name, but he was able to produce a vague sketch of the traitor. Furthermore, the Soviet files he delivered described the spy as a “career American intelligence officer," and the courier who carried the secrets was a "clergyman" in the Russian Orthodox church.

In 1994 Trofimoff, along with Metropolitan Iriney (Susemihl), was arrested and held briefly by German authorities based on the mentioned sketch; they were both released due to the expired Statute of limitations. After this short vindication, he left Germany to retire in Tampa, Florida
Tampa, Florida
Tampa is a city in the U.S. state of Florida. It serves as the county seat for Hillsborough County. Tampa is located on the west coast of Florida. The population of Tampa in 2010 was 335,709....

.

On July 10, 1997, an undercover FBI agent, Igor Galkin, wrote and phoned from the Russian embassy repeatedly seeking a meeting with Trofimoff and offering him money. After years of gentle persuasion and recorded meetings in a motel, Trofimoff finally discussed his past services for the KGB and his hopes for future compensation, Trofimoff agreed to meet Igor in Tampa to receive $20,000. He was then arrested for espionage by the FBI on arrival and has been in jail ever since. Trofimoff later recanted his admissions of espionage saying he only made himself out to be a spy in order to obtain money from Galkin whom he believed to be a legitimate servant of the Russian Orthodox Church. He implied that he believed Galkin would only help him only if he, Trofimoff, were in such a dire situation.

U.S. Attorney for Florida, Donna Bucella, "declined to estimate the damage wrought" by Trofimoff's suspected spying, stating that "several factors suggested a major security breach, including the sensitivity of the Nuremberg center, a NATO facility staffed by Germans, British, French and Americans;... Trofimoff's clearance to view virtually any documents, and his longevity in the job."

His court trial was unprecedented in that a witness for the prosecution was the former KGB general Oleg Kalugin
Oleg Kalugin
Oleg Danilovich Kalugin , is a former KGB general. He was a longtime head of KGB operations in the United States and later a critic of the agency.-Early life and the KGB career:...

, who had been a field officer posted in the US and later head of the foreign counterintelligence, or K branch, of the KGB First Chief Directorate
First Chief Directorate
The First Chief Directorate , of the Committee for State Security , was the organization responsible for foreign operations and intelligence collection activities by the training and management of the covert agents, intelligence collection management, and the collection of political, scientific and...

, who told the jury the names of KGB agents who worked with Trofimoff. They were the same names Trofimoff remembered in one of those phone calls with Igor Galkin.

On 26 June 2001, a jury at a federal court in Florida convicted Trofimoff of spying for the Soviet Union and Russia for over at least 25 years. He was given a life sentence.

Trofimoff says he has always been a loyal army officer who spent his career defending his country and calls himself "a patriot that served this country for 46 years and a half or 47 years." Trofimoff maintains his innocence.

Other notable American moles


Other Agents in place in the US Government or Military who worked as a Mole
Mole (espionage)
A mole is a spy who works for an enemy nation, but whose loyalty ostensibly lies with his own nation's government. In some usage, a mole differs from a defector in that a mole is a spy before gaining access to classified information, while a defector becomes a spy only after gaining access...

 for either the KGB
KGB
The KGB was the commonly used acronym for the . It was the national security agency of the Soviet Union from 1954 until 1991, and was the premier internal security, intelligence, and secret police organization during that time.The State Security Agency of the Republic of Belarus currently uses the...

 or the SVR
Foreign Intelligence Service (Russia)
The Russian Foreign Intelligence Service is Russia's primary external intelligence agency. The SVR is the successor of the First Chief Directorate of the KGB since December 1991...

, include:
  • James Hall III
    James Hall III
    James W. Hall, III is a former United States Army warrant officer and signals intelligence analyst in Germany who sold eavesdropping and code secrets to East Germany and the Soviet Union from 1983 to 1988...

     - An Army warrant officer
    Warrant Officer
    A warrant officer is an officer in a military organization who is designated an officer by a warrant, as distinguished from a commissioned officer who is designated an officer by a commission, or from non-commissioned officer who is designated an officer by virtue of seniority.The rank was first...

     and intelligence analyst in Germany who sold eavesdropping and code secrets to East Germany and the Soviet Union from 1983 to 1988.
  • Aldrich Ames
    Aldrich Ames
    Aldrich Hazen Ames is a former Central Intelligence Agency counter-intelligence officer and analyst, who, in 1994, was convicted of spying for the Soviet Union and Russia...

     - A CIA mole charged with providing highly classified information since 1985 to the Soviet Union and then Russia.
  • Robert Hanssen
    Robert Hanssen
    Robert Philip Hanssen is a former American FBI agent who spied for Soviet and Russian intelligence services against the United States for 22 years from 1979 to 2001...

     - Arrested for spying for the Soviet Union and Russia for more than 15 years of his 27 years with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
  • Earl Edwin Pitts
    Earl Edwin Pitts
    Earl Edwin Pitts is a former FBI special agent who, in 1996, was arrested at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia. Pitts was charged with several offenses, including spying for the Soviet Union and Russia...

     - An FBI agent charged with providing Top Secret documents to the Soviet Union and then Russia from 1987 until 1992.
  • Harold James Nicholson
    Harold James Nicholson
    For the English diplomat, author, diarist and politician, see Harold Nicolson.Harold James Nicholson is a former Central Intelligence Agency officer and a twice-convicted spy for Russia's Foreign Intelligence Service...

     - A senior-ranking Central Intelligence Agency officer arrested while attempting to take Top Secret documents out of the country. He began spying for Russia in 1994.

See also

  • Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR)
  • United States government security breaches
    United States government security breaches
    This page is a timeline of published security lapses in the United States government. These lapses are frequently referenced in congressional and non-governmental oversight...

  • FSB
  • Russian Orthodox Church
    Russian Orthodox Church
    The Russian Orthodox Church or, alternatively, the Moscow Patriarchate The ROC is often said to be the largest of the Eastern Orthodox churches in the world; including all the autocephalous churches under its umbrella, its adherents number over 150 million worldwide—about half of the 300 million...


External links and references