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Infamous Cold War double agent dies aged 98

George Blake praised by Vladimir Putin as a man of ‘special courage’

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A Cold War era Soviet spy who infamously broke out of a west London prison in the early 1960s has reportedly died in Russia aged 98.

George Blake, who was born George Behar, was a former MI6 officer convicted of spying offences in 1961 after passing information to the KGB.

Sentenced to 42 years in prison, he escaped to Moscow five years later after climbing down the wall of Wormwood Scrubs prison with help from inmates.

According to the Associated Press, several British agents in eastern Europe were executed after being exposed by Mr Blake.

He has received various honours in Russia, including the country's Order of Friendship in 2007.

His death was announced by the Kremlin on Sunday.

Russian president Vladimir Putin hailed Mr Blake as an “outstanding professional of special courage and life endurance.”

“Throughout the years of his hard and strenuous efforts he made a truly invaluable contribution to ensuring the strategic parity and the preservation of peace on the planet.”

According to the New York Times, Mr Blake is survived by three sons in the UK, his Russian wife, their son and several grandchildren.

Mr Blake’s father, Albert Behar, was a Sephardic Jew born in Turkey who married a Dutch protestant. He became naturalised British after serving during the First World War.

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