Anatoli Golitsyn was born in in Piryatin, Ukraine, on 25th August, 1926. After leaving college he joined the KGB. He worked in the strategic planning department and eventually the rank of Major. In 1961 under the name "Ivan Klimov" he was assigned to the Soviet embassy in Helsinki, Finland, as vice counsel and attache.
In December 1961, Golitsyn, defected to the CIA. He was immediately flown to the United States and lodged in a safe house called Ashford Farm near Washington. Interviewed by James Angleton Golitsyn supplied information about a large number of Soviet agents working in the West.
In these interviews Golitsyn argued that as the KGB would be so concerned about his defection, they would attempt to convince the CIA that the information he was giving them would be completely unreliable. He predicted that the KGB would send false defectors with information that contradicted what he was saying.
Arthur Martin, head of MI5's D1 Section, went to to interview Golitsyn in America. Golitsyn claimed that Kim Philby, Donald Maclean and Guy Burgess were members of a Ring of Five agents based in Britain. However, he did not have the names of the other two agents. Martin eventually came to the conclusion that the Director General of MI5 , Roger Hollis or his deputy, Graham Mitchell, could be spies.
Golitsyn also provided information about two spies in the Admiralty. Using the information supplied by Golitsyn, MI5 came to the conclusion that one of these men could be John Vassall, a 37-year-old clerk working in the Admiralty.
In June 1962 Yuri Nosenko made contact with the CIA in Geneva. He was deputy chief of the Seventh Department of the KGB. His main responsibility was the recruitment of foreign spies. He like Golitsyn, provided evidence that John Vassall was a Soviet agent. However, most of his evidence undermined that given by Golitsyn This included Golitsyn's claim that a senior figure in the Admiralty was a spy.
In July 1963, Golitsyn travelled to London to be interviewed by Arthur Martin. Soon afterwards a senior MI5 officer leaked information to British newspapers that they were interviewing a KGB defector in London. As soon as this story appeared in the press, Golitsyn returned to the United States and refused to give any more information to MI5.
When back in Washington Golitsyn was interviewed once more by James Angleton. Golitsyn claimed that Hugh Gaitskell had been murdered in January 1963 to allow Harold Wilson, a KGB agent, to become leader of the Labour Party. Angleton believed Golitsyn but few senior members of the CIA agreed with him. They pointed out that Gaitskell had died after Golitsyn had left the Soviet Union and would have had to know in advance what was about to take place.
Golitsyn also suggested that W. Averell Harriman had been a Soviet spy, while he was the U.S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union during the Second World War. Angleton was convinced by this story as he knew someone was involved in spying the negotiations that took place between Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt. However, other CIA officers thought the story ridiculous and Harriman was appointed by President Lyndon B. Johnson as ambassador-at-large for Southeast Asian affairs.
In January 1964 Yuri Nosenko wanted to defect to the United States. He claimed that he had been recalled to Moscow to be interrogated. Nosenko feared that the KGB had discovered he was a double-agent and once back in the Soviet Union would be executed. Nosenko claimed that he had important information about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. He told the CIA that he had been the KGB officially who had personally handled the case of Lee Harvey Oswald. After interviewing Oswald it was decided that he was not intelligent enough to work as a KGB agent. They were also concerned that he was "too mentally unstable" to be of any use to them. Nosenko added that the KGB had never questioned Oswald about information he had acquired while a member of the U.S. Marines. This surprised the CIA as Oswald had worked as a Aviation Electronics Operator at the Atsugi Air Base in Japan.
Members of the Warren Commission were pleased to hear this information as it helped to confirm the idea that Oswald had acted alone and was not part of a Soviet conspiracy to kill John F. Kennedy. CIA chief of intelligence, James Jesus Angleton, did not believe parts of Nosenko's story. He was supported by Golitsyn He had worked in some of the same departments as Nosenko but had never met him. After being interviewed for several days Nosenko admitted that some aspects of his story were not true. For example, Nosenko had previously said he was a lieutenant colonel in the KGB. He confessed that he had exaggerated his rank to make himself attractive to the CIA. However, initially he had provided KGB documents that said Nosenko was a lieutenant colonel.
The story was further complicated by the fact that another Soviet KGB defector under FBI control (code name Fedora) corroborated Nosenko's story. Therefore, if Nosenko was lying, it meant that Fedora was also a disinformation agent sent to the United States to confuse the security agencies. Nosenko was given two lie detector tests by the CIA. Both suggested he was lying about Lee Harvey Oswald.
The CIA now decided to put Nosenko under intense physical physical and psychological pressure. This involved him being kept in solitary confinement for 1,277 days. A light was left burning in his unheated cell for twenty-four hours a day and he was given nothing to read and his guards were ordered not to speak to him. However, Nosenko did not crack and insisted that Oswald was not a KGB agent.
James Jesus Angleton, chief of the CIA's counter-intelligence section, believed that Anatoli Golitsyn was a genuine double-agent but argued that Nosenko was part of a disinformation campaign. However, Richard Helms (CIA) and J. Edgar Hoover (FBI) believed Nosenko and considered Golitsyn was a fake.
Yuri Nosenko was eventually released and was given a false identity. He became an adviser to the CIA and the FBI on a salary of more than $35,000 a year. He was also given a lump sum of $150,000 as payment for his ordeal.