JERUSALEM (AP) _ Frank Foley, a British diplomat who defied the Nazis and saved thousands of Jews from death, was honored Thursday by the Israeli Holocaust Memorial after a public request from a prominent British Jew.

Foley, a former MI6 agent, was the head of the passport and visa section at the British embassy in Berlin in the 1930s, when Hitler rose to power in Germany.

Disregarding British government regulations, he issued visas to thousands of Jews, allowing them to escape from Germany before Hitler's forces could send them to death camps.

Yad Vashem, the national Holocaust memorial, awarded Foley the title of ``Righteous Among the Nations'' 40 years after his death.

As of Jan. 1, 16,526 people had received the title reserved for non-Jews, according to Yad Vashem spokeswoman Iris Rosenberg. Only 11 were from Great Britain. Most lived in countries on the European continent, risking their lives to shelter and help Jews.

Last month, after the book ``Foley: The Spy who saved 10,000 Jews,'' was released in Britain, Jewish leader Greville Janner called on Israel to officially recognize Foley.

Yad Vashem officials said they knew of Foley's actions for years but could not award him the title because they had no eyewitness reports.

In a statement Thursday, they said that a month ago they received a list of people Foley helped, including Jews he hid in his own home. The list helped them verify details of his activities.

Six million Jews were killed during the Holocaust.