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Gerald Brooke (born 1938), who was born on Pearson Place in Sheffield, was a British teacher who taught Russian at Holborn College for Law, Languages and Commerce in central London. In 1965 he travelled to the Soviet Union. Brooke and his wife Barbara were arrested on 25 April by KGB agents for smuggling anti-Soviet leaflets.
Barbara was later released and returned to Britain, but Gerald was sentenced to five years detention, including four years in labour camps, for "subversive anti-Soviet activity on the territory of the Soviet Union".
After four years in custody he was exchanged on 24 July 1969, for Soviet spies Morris and Lona Cohen, AKA Peter and Helen Kroger, who had been arrested by Special Branch detectives. The Russian authorities only told Brooke he was being sent home 24 hours before he got back to Britain.
Upon his arrival at Heathrow Brooke was surprised by the huge presence of journalists and reporters. He explained that he was suffering from an inflamed colon, aggravated by prison food, and he was not used to speaking English or seeing so many people. Prevented from saying too much about his ordeal he simply stated that prison conditions "were not particularly soft."
The Cohens returned to the Soviet Union in October 1969 after serving nine years of their 20-year sentence.
Such exchanges had happened before. Notable examples included Soviet spy Rudolf Abel for U2 pilot Gary Powers and Konon Molody (aka Gordon Lonsdale) for Greville Wynne, but British Prime Minister Harold Wilson's Labour Government was criticised by the opposition for agreeing to release Peter and Helen Kroger in exchange for Brooke. Opponents claimed it set a dangerous precedent, and was an example of blackmail rather than a fair exchange.
Brooke later claimed he had passed on concealed documents, including codes, on behalf of the National Alliance of Russian Solidarists.
- General Register Office Index of Births (Sheffield Registration District), July–September 1938, Volume 9c Page 887
- BBC report on the case, July 24, 1969.