Robert Thompson (spy)

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Robert Thompson (born 1935) was a U.S. Air Force clerk who confessed in 1965 to passing hundreds of photos of secret documents to the Soviets while he was based in West Berlin. He received a 30-year sentence to the Lewisburg Federal Penitentiary in Pennsylvania.

U.S. investigators held that he was a Detroit-born American. However, Thompson maintained that he was actually born in Leipzig, Germany, of a Russian father and a German mother.

He said, that if given another opportunity to spy for the Soviets, he would "do it again."[citation needed]

Prisoner exchange[edit]

Thompson's release came in 1978 in a three-way spy swap. As part of the deal, an American student Alan van Norman, held by the East Germans and an Israeli pilot imprisoned by the Marxist regime in Mozambique were released.

The triple prisoner play was the result of several months of negotiations. Among the key Western officials involved in the bargaining was Congressman Benjamin Gilman, a New York Republican who has involved in obtaining freedom for a number of people imprisoned by Communist regimes.