Long history of deep-cover 'illegals'

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The use of so-called "deep-cover illegals" and a patient approach to espionage are two hallmarks of Russian spying dating back nearly a century.

The golden age of the great Russian "illegals" - who were not just living without diplomatic cover and the protection that this provides, but were pretending to be nationalities other than Russian - lies back in the midst of time before even the dawn of the Cold War.

In the 1930s, the KGB's predecessor sent its men under deep cover into Europe, where they began recruiting young, idealistic men drawn to communism as the only force opposing fascism.

On a park bench in London a young Kim Philby, recently out of Cambridge, agreed to penetrate the British establishment.

Many of the methods used by the suspected agents arrested in the US - the "brush contacts" in train stations - would have been familiar to those who recruited and ran Philby even if others - the use of wireless networks and steganography, the art of secret writing - would not....

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