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article imageSpy Who ‘Saved the World’ Dies Age 71

By Christopher Szabo     Nov 7, 2009 in World
Former Lieutenant-Colonel István Belovai, who revealed the existence of a widespread spy-ring within NATO to the US government and reportedly prevented a Soviet attack on Western Europe, has died aged 71.
The former Army Hungarian People’s Army Military Strategic Service (HPAMSS) officer died in Denver, Colorado, after a long illness, Hungarian media reported.
The Freerepublic website, quoting an article in the US military’s official magazine, Stars and Stripes, says Belovai sabotaged a Soviet plan to invade Germany in the 1980s. While handling sensitive information on NATO deployments, as well as having to hand them over to the Soviet KGB, Belovai decided the Soviet Union would be able to destroy NATO forces in Germany, which might lead to a nuclear war.
While stationed in London in the early 1980s, Belovai made contact with U.S. representatives and informed them of the leak. This led to the capture one of the largest Cold War NATO spy rings, referred to as the “Conrad Ring,” codenamed Operation Snowdrop by the (HPMSS) for which Belovai was working.
The Conrad spy ring was based around a U.S. Army Non-Commissioned Officer, (NCO) Clyde Lee Conrad, who gave documents containing the exact position of every NATO unit in case of a war, and the details of how they were to defend against Soviet and Warsaw Pact forces. The material was classified in the highest possible category, that of Cosmic Top Secret.
The full extent of the ring is unknown, but Sergeant Roderick James Ramsay, Staff Sergeant Jeffrey S. Rondeau, Staff Sergeant Jeff E. Gregory and Kelly Therese Warren were arrested and found guilty of espionage, along with Conrad. Conrad was arrested in 1988 in Germany, were the presiding Judge, Ferdinand Schuth stated:
If war had broken out between NATO and the Warsaw Pact, the West would have faced certain defeat. NATO would have quickly been forced to choose between capitulation or the use of nuclear weapons on German territory. Conrad's treason had doomed the Federal Republic to become a nuclear battlefield.
Sentenced to life in prison, Condrad died in January 1998 of a heart attack in a German prison, aged 50. All his spying was done for money, and he reportedly earned at least a million dollars.
Belovai, meanwhile, who received the American codename Scorpion, was arrested by the communist Hungarian counterintelligence in 1985 while on vacation in Budapest.
At his trial, the prosecutor demanded the death sentence, but instead, he was sentenced to life in prison as well as the confiscation of all his property.
After the Collapse of Communism, Hungary’s new president, Árpád Göncz, grudgingly gave him a partial pardon, by changing his punishment to a five year suspended sentence. He was only released a year after the Communist government ceased to function.
He left Hungary the same year after being warned that his life was in danger and settled in the United States.
Belovai was never satisfied with this state of affairs. He wanted his military rank back and demanded his actions be seen as serving Hungary, as well as the West. However, despite his efforts, he remained and remains merely a pardoned criminal. Belovai told the Stars and Stripes:
The problem is serious because I did nothing against the interest of Hungary. In that case, I am not a traitor for my country. The CIA did not recruit me. I did it … I helped the United States to prevent the next war in Europe. I saved many, many billions of dollars in Europe. And I believe I helped stop the next atomic war, which would be arranged by the Soviet Union. Because they wanted to arrange a war. I knew it.
According to a Hungarian military publication, the Hungarian People’s Army was to have invaded Italy through Austria, and hold their positions until the Soviet Red Army arrived. Belovai feared his countrymen would have been wiped out.
Now, some 20 years after the ending of Communist rule, no political party is prepared to ”rehabilitate” Belovai. The Hungarian News Agency, MTI, quoted Hungary’s Honorary Consul in Denver, where Belovai lived, as saying that most American-Hungarians could not understand that modern Hungary, a member of NATO, hasn’t rehabilitated him.
In the battle between the West and the East he served the West and did something toward the dismantling of the Iron Curtain.
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