Agent Albert: MP listed as secret KGB informant in Russian archives

A federal Labor MP was among a list of secret KGB informants, according to newly released Russian intelligence archives.

The former Labor member for the NSW electorate of Hunter, Albert James, is listed as an informant of the Soviet intelligence service in the papers of former KGB archivist and defector Vasili Mitrokhin, which were released by the Churchill College Archive in the United Kingdom last month.

The late Mr James, a former NSW policeman and  Labor MP who served in Federal Parliament from 1960 to 1980, is one of a number of Australians recorded in Mitrokhin’s list of KGB agents and informants active in Australia during the 1960s and 1970s.

Mitrokhin’s notes do not reveal what information James may have  passed to the Soviet Union, but they do confirm his status as a KGB informant, albeit with the insecure codename of ‘‘Albert’’.

James  was highly critical of the United States, strongly opposed Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam War and praised Fidel Castro’s communist regime.

Australian Security Intelligence Organisation records, mainly phone intercept transcripts, reveal  James was in regular contact with the Soviet embassy in Canberra in the early 1970s, dealing with third secretary Alexander Ekimenko who was suspected by ASIO as being a Russian intelligence officer, and was a regular recipient of Soviet hospitality.

In an oral history recorded in 1984, James declared that ‘‘the greatest threat to world peace is USA imperialism’’ and claimed that the US Central Intelligence Agency had tried to remove Prime Minister John Gorton from office.

Mitrokhin’s notes shed  new light on KGB activities, including the revelation that Australia’s 1963 expulsion of Soviet diplomat Ivan Skripov severely disrupted Soviet intelligence operations, which had to ‘‘start over from scratch’’.

The KGB’s priorities in Australia included information on Australian politics, international affairs in Asia and the Pacific, and ‘‘infiltrating the embassies of England, USA, the Australian Ministry of Foreign Affairs … [as well as] counterintelligence operations to infiltrate intelligence and counterintelligence agencies.’’

Full article: Agent Albert: MP listed as secret KGB informant in Russian archives (The Age)

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