KGB Chief Says American Spy Committed Suicide
MOSCOW (AP) _ A U.S. Navy intelligence analyst who spied for the Soviet Union was a sensitive and emotional man who broke under the pressure of his work and committed suicide, the head of the KGB said today.
Glenn Michael Souther, 32, defected to the Soviet Union and rose to become a major in the Soviet KGB. Yet ″his nervous system could not stand the pressure. This was apparent even in his homeland,″ where life as a spy was far from simple, Gen. Vladimir Kryuchkov told reporters outside the meeting hall of the Soviet legislature.
Kryuchkov, in a rare admission of Soviet spying, said Souther took his life last week and left a note thanking the Soviet government for what it did for him personally.
″The motive was not political,″ Kryuchkov said. ″He long ago started to show a nervous state of mind. He was a gifted, emotional, caring, sensitive person. He was easily hurt.″
The spy chief would not say how Souther committed suicide.
He said the U.S.-born Souther began working for the KGB ″several years before he came to the Soviet Union.″
When Souther defected in May 1986 the FBI was investigating him on charges of spying. He appeared on Soviet television in July 1988, when the Soviets announced the defection, and said the FBI was harassing him.
A Soviet obituary, which appeared Tuesday in the military newspaper Red Star, identified Souther first by the Russian name of Mikhail Orlov, which he took when he arrived in the Soviet Union, Kryuchkov said.
The name had led to speculation that he was a Russian mole rather than an American defector.
Kryuchkov said Souther was born in the United States and that his parents, brother and sister had traveled to Moscow for the funeral. He said Souther was buried Monday in the military section of Kuntsevo Cemetary, the resting place of the late British traitor Kim Philby.
The FBI said Souther was born in Hammond, Ind., and went to high school in Cumberland, Maine. He served in the Navy in the 1970s, and then went to work as a civilian intelligence specialist in the Navy’s 2nd Fleet headquarters in Norfolk, Va.
″I am very sorry he died at the age of 32,″ Kryuchkov said. ″It was also a personal loss. I met him several times.″
Souther is survived by a Russian wife and 18-month-old daughter. His former speech teacher at Old Dominion University, Fran Hassencahl, said Souther previouly had been married to an Italian woman while in the United States and that they divorced. She said he was engaged to an American woman when he defected.