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Philby: The spy who allegedly inspired Hanssen

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Red Square: All the Cambridge Spy Ring fled to Moscow  

LONDON, England (CNN) -- Kim Philby, the British traitor who allegedly inspired accused FBI spy Robert Philip Hanssen, was arguably the most successful and damaging Soviet double agent of the Cold War period.

He was a member of the infamous "Cambridge Spy Ring" along with Donald Maclean, Guy Burgess and Anthony Blunt.

Like the other three he became a communist while studying at Cambridge University in the early 1930s.

He was recruited into British Intelligence in 1940 and went on to become head of counterespionage operations for MI6, causing devastation to the Western espionage network.

He provided the USSR with information that led to the deaths of several Western agents. In 1945 he intervened to obstruct the defection of a KGB official in Istanbul, who was later liquidated.

One of his greatest successes while working for MI6 as head of Soviet counter intelligence was to thwart a UK-U.S. plan to send groups of anti-communists into communist ruled Albania in 1950.

He passed on information, and when the nationalists crossed into Albania the communists were waiting, and scores were killed and captured.

In 1949 he was sent to Washington as the top liaison officer between the British and U.S. intelligence services.

There he became aware of the tightening security net around traitors Burgess and Maclean, his friends from university days.

Both men were double agents in the British diplomatic service. He warned them they were under suspicion, and both fled to Moscow in 1951.

Philby was widely suspected as being the "third man" who tipped them off. But in the absence of firm evidence he was merely asked to resign.

He won the support of many leading politicians including Britain's Foreign Secretary Harold MacMillan, who publicly stated Philby was a loyal British citizen who heroically served his country.

But by 1962 suspicion again fell on him, and he fled to Soviet Russia, who adorned him with the Order of Lenin and made him a KGB general. He died in Moscow in 1988.

Philby was born in India in 1912, the son of a high ranking civil service officer. He was nicknamed Kim after the hero of the Rudyard Kipling novel about a boy spy.

Philby published a book, My Silent War in 1968, in which he detailed his exploits. It was this book that allegedly led the FBI agent Hanssen on the path to treachery.

Hanssen, In one letter cited in the FBI's affidavit against him, allegedly said he was encouraged by the memoirs of the notorious British-Soviet double agent Philby.

"I decided on this course when I was 14 years old," the letter stated. "I had read Philby's book. Now that is insane, eh!"

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