23 Aug 2008

East German spy swap fixer dies

12:36 pm on 23 August 2008

East German lawyer Wolfgang Vogel, who oversaw some of the Cold War's biggest swaps of captured spies in Berlin, has died, aged 82.

He died on Thursday at his home in Schliersee, Bavaria, after recently suffering a heart attack.

Born in Lower Silesia on 30 October 1925, he studied law in Jena and Leipzig after World War II and graduated as a lawyer.

His swaps included KGB agent Rudolf Abel for US pilot Gary Powers, shot down over the USSR, in 1962.

Guenter Guillaume, a STASI agent working as a close aide to West German Chancellor Will Brandt, was another exchange in 1981.

Soviet Jewish dissident Anatoly Shcharansky (now Natan Sharansky, an Israeli citizen) was another in 1986.

Mr Vogel also helped to broker the transfer of more than 34,000 East German political prisoners and 215,000 ordinary citizens to the West, beginning in 1964.

West Germany paid nearly 3.5 billion marks ($US2.7 billion) for their liberation.

Mr Vogel faced prosecution over his work for the East German secret police, the STASI, after reunification in 1989. But he was cleared of the charges by the German Federal Supreme Court.