Famous Spies: Jeremy Wolfenden

Famous Spies: Jeremy Wolfenden

Jeremy Wolfenden was born in 1934 in England.  He was one of the top in his classes throughout school and known for being an extremely intelligent individual.  He studied politics, philosophy and economics, eventually becoming involved in journalism.  It was the time of the Cold War and Wolfenden was quickly recruited by the British Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) to work for them as a spy in Moscow.

Wolfenden also happened to be a homosexual.  During this time, it was particularly rough to have such a lifestyle and this was not made easier by the fact that his father was the chair of the Wolfenden Report - a condemnation in law of homosexual acts in Britain.  He represented everything that his father fought against and, if exposed, would have been an outcast among his own people.  This was further complicated by the fact that Wolfenden had a strong liking for both sex and alcohol.  These indulgences would eventually get him into trouble and shape the scope of his spying activities.

The KGB found out about his bad habits and attempted to use them to get Wolfenden to spy for them.  They threatened to expose his homosexuality and thus discredit him.  Wolfenden, valuing loyalty to his country over his own personal reputation, went to his British commanders in the SIS and told them of the KGB’s threats.  Instead of condemning him for his lifestyle, the SIS instead encouraged Wolfenden to play the KGB’s game.  He pretended to spy for them, feeding them false information, but all the while was still working for the SIS.

Eventually, the pressure became too much for him.  Both the SIS and the KGB expected more than he could handle.  He swapped out his reporting job with another person in Washington and managed to get transferred out of Soviet Russia.

It was a short time later, at age 30, when Wolfenden died.  The circumstances regarding his death were suspicious, and so some suspected foul play.  Others think that his heavy drinking finally caught up to him and it was liver failure or something similar that ended his life.  Either way, Jeremy Wolfenden was a man who served his country, even to the point of putting his rather controversial personal life in the spotlight.