A piece in today’s Times:
A leading nuclear scientist at Oxford University spent years feeding intelligence secrets to communist spies.
Professor Jirina Stone held clandestine meetings with agents from her native Czechoslovakia on sensitive British and American research after emigrating here in the 1980s.
Stone, 82, even shared information about her unknowing British husband — also an Oxford academic and nuclear scientist — with her handlers.
The revelations are part of a cache of newly declassified files from the Czech security services archive in Prague.
Stone, formerly Rikovska, remains a respected researcher and published her most recent paper in January. She moved to Oxford in 1984 after being sponsored by Nicholas Stone, a physics professor at the university, whom she met on a previous trip to the UK during which they began a relationship. In November 1985 they married after Stone left his wife and three children to be with her. The couple worked at Oxford’s Clarendon Laboratory.
Unbeknown to her husband and employer, she had before leaving for the West left a letter to be sent to the Ministry of the Interior offering “her services to Czechoslovakia”.
The files said she had previously been a “very active member and functionary of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia”, which she joined on her 18th birthday, and had been selected by the Czech security services as a “candidate for a secret collaborator” from its pool of interns going abroad in March 1983.
One of her handlers, Lieutenant Rudolf Kasparovsky, was officially a “technical adviser” at the Czech embassy in Britain, one of four envoys expelled in 1989 accused of spying.
The files note: “She is currently in a very good position to gather information that is of interest to us and also to create opportunities to infiltrate other fields that are of interest to us. She has a very good source, and cover, in her present husband.”
The documents noted how, as a member of the nuclear board of the Science and Engineering Research Council, her husband “has access to secret materials on British nuclear physics and research” which his wife “can supply us with . . . immediately”.
Her handler would call at work at times when her husband was having lunch. He would pretend to be from her former university in Prague and say he was bringing “regards from Lida”.
Her security service files were archived in June 1991. Stone became a British citizen in 1992 and remained in her post at Oxford until her retirement in 2005, when she moved to the US to continue her research at the University of Tennessee. She retains her home in Oxford and is an author of more than 150 papers in refereed journals and a speaker at conferences and schools.
When confronted about the revelations Stone, code-named Marta, told the Daily Mail that she attended meetings and passed some information but said it was necessary for her safety and to stop retribution against her children, who she had left in Czechoslovakia.
She denied being a spy and said she successfully “played” the agents by giving them only inconsequential “flannel” that posed no security risk.
Her husband, who was unaware of her meetings until contacted, defended his wife, saying she had done nothing “sinful or reprehensible” and had been a victim of the Cold War.
Anthony Glees, an intelligence studies professor at the University of Buckingham, said her explanations were the “same textbook excuses” used by other collaborators and said she should be extradited to Britain for trial. Oxford University declined to comment.
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