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Czech agents’ ‘black ops’ disinformation plot to blame the CIA for murder of Lord Mountbatten

Revealed: Czech agents’ ‘black ops’ disinformation plot to blame the CIA for murder of Lord Mountbatten and ruin the UK’s special relationship with the US during the Cold War

Even in the cloak and dagger world of Cold War espionage it was a sinister – if improbable – plot.

Communist agents drew up detailed plans for a disinformation campaign using threats to kill MPs in an attempt to blame the CIA for Earl Mountbatten’s murder.

Codenamed Operation Mount, it aimed to wreck the UK’s special relationship with the US during Margaret Thatcher’s premiership by suggesting American operatives, rather than IRA terrorists, had blown up Prince Charles‘s beloved great-uncle on his fishing boat in Ireland in 1979.

The disturbing conspiracy involved Communist spies posing as CIA agents to bombard Enoch Powell and former home secretary Merlyn Rees with ‘threatening and insulting’ letters and messages saying their ‘continued physical existence’ was at risk.

The ‘Kafkaesque’ plot was part of a broader operation by the Czech agents – who worked as a surrogates to the Soviet KGB – to stop the US deploying more nuclear weapons in Europe.

Communist agents drew up detailed plans for a disinformation campaign using threats to kill MPs in an attempt to blame the CIA for Earl Mountbatten’s murder

The conspiracy has emerged in declassified files from the Czech security service archives dated January 1984 and marked ‘Top Secret!’ 

Agents hatched the plan after a Guardian newspaper report said Mr Powell had wrongly suggested that the CIA may have had a hand in Mountbatten’s murder.

Mr Rees, who had previously served as Northern Ireland Secretary, was also quoted in the report suggesting the CIA had contacts in both parts of Ireland.

Seizing on the article, the Czech spy headquarters planned to ‘prepare multiple exclusive letters’ to send to the MPs, highlighting the Guardian report speculating about US involvement in the death of Lord Mountbatten ‘who is close to the Royal Family and an opponent of Nato’s core strategy’.

The disturbing conspiracy involved Communist spies posing as CIA agents to bombard Enoch Powell and former home secretary Merlyn Rees (pictured) with 'threatening and insulting' letters and messages saying their 'continued physical existence' was at risk

The disturbing conspiracy involved Communist spies posing as CIA agents to bombard Enoch Powell and former home secretary Merlyn Rees (pictured) with ‘threatening and insulting’ letters and messages saying their ‘continued physical existence’ was at risk

The file said: ‘E. Powell and M. Rees will be warned in the letters that if they do not refute the information and if they fail to stop bringing up the topic, they can expect the worst possible personal consequences, since the interests of Nato are more important than the political activities of former members of the British Parliament and their continued physical existence.

‘The contents of the letters should be insulting and threatening, and they should provoke public statements by both MPs,’ the file said. It continued: ‘During the preparation of the letters, glued clippings from newspaper articles and other methods used by the CIA, of which we are aware at headquarters, should be utilised.’

Once written, the letters were due to be sent from Brussels, Washington and London over eight weeks in a coordinated plan to keep the MPs ‘feeling intimidated for a lengthy period’. It suggested the letters would become gradually more threatening.

Operation Mount was part of a broader plot named Operation Sepie, described as the ‘fight against the deployment of missiles in Europe’.

‘The operation should call into question the so-called special relationship between Britain and the USA and must lead to interventions in Parliament.’

Professor Anthony Glees, an intelligence and security expert from the University of Buckingham, said it was not a surprise and showed that hostile intelligence agencies interfering in internal politics to cause mischief did not start with Putin’s Russia.

‘The Stasi [East German spies] were more hands-on during the Cold War and would ship guns to the IRA. This was more subtle and sophisticated, and Kafkaesque in its dimensions. Instead of guns and bullets the ammo was fake ideas and fake news.’

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