With the upcoming release of dramatic, spy-thriller Our Kind of Traitor, which is being released on the 12th of September, we follow the exploits of a young couple, who unbeknown to them, get dragged into a Russian mobsters plans whilst on their holiday in Marrakech. The pair soon find themselves positioned between the Russian Mafia and the British Secret Service, neither of which they can trust. The film’s multiple plot-twists and turns whisk the audience all over the globe; so in order to celebrate the film’s release, we play our own game of eye spy, as we go undercover and snoop around some famous real-life spy locations from around the world.
Eye Spy – London: Leconfield House
We begin our journey in London, home of the most famous fictional spy of all time: James Bond. Leconsfield House was the home of MI5 up until the middle of the 1940s. The building housed one of the most infamous and illusive bars of all time, the ‘Pig and Eye’. It is exciting to imagine real-life members of the Service ordering their drinks of choice at this bar, conjuring images of men in tailored suits ordering vodka martinis, ‘shaken, not stirred’, similarly to Bond. It is confirmed that Peter Wright, author of the iconic espionage novel ‘Spycatcher’ drank here. Another interesting fact is that the building once had the frames of its windows reinforced, in order to support machine guns just in case the Germans ever reached London.
Eye Spy – Moscow: Aragvi Restaurant
Next stop on our list is the Russian capital city of Moscow, and more specifically a popular restaurant called Aragvi. Double agent Pyotr Semyonovich Popov leaked information he had acquired from his involvement in the Soviet Union’s Intelligence Agency to the CIA during the Cold War. He was eventually found out and subsequently executed by the Russians for his disloyalty. It was at the Aragvi restaurant, specifically in the bathroom, that Pytor passed on a message to his American associate that he suspected the Russians were beginning to become aware of his relationship with the CIA.
Eye Spy – Paris: Le Meurice Restaurant
From one restaurant to another, the next place we find ourselves is in the highly exclusive restaurant, Le Meurice. A mysterious meeting took place within its walls, between Reino Gikman, a Soviet Union agent, and Felix Bloch of the US State Department. Images show Bloch entering the restaurant with a leather briefcase, whilst Gikman arrived empty handed. However, the pictures taken of the pair at the end of the meal have one, significant difference, Bloch is now empty handed whilst Gikman is photographed clutching the briefcase. It is suspected that Bloch was leaking highly classified information to his Russian rival, but nothing could ever be proved. When the FBI questioned Block about the illusive briefcase, he maintained it contained nothing more than a stamp collection, as he was a keen collector himself.
Eye Spy – Ankara: Turkey
We’re travelling to the Middle-East next, to the capital city of Turkey, Ankara. During the Cold War, special agents of the CIA were stationed out here in order to recruit Soviet Intelligence offers. One operative, Aldrich Ames, subverted from his mission entirely, instead selling highly classified information to the Soviet Union. His disloyalty resulted in the compromise of nearly one hundred undercover CIA agents, ten of whom were executed. Despite managing to pass a staggering two lie detector tests when questioned by the FBI; his lavish sports car and huge house all funded by the Soviet Union gave him away, leading to his capture and life sentence in prison.
Eye Spy – Berlin: Glienicke Bridge
We finish at the iconic landmark of the Glienicke Bridge in Berlin, a bridge that used to run right down the middle of the east and west boundary of Berlin during the Cold War. The bridge is infamous, and earns a spot on our list due to its use as a site for exchanging captured spies. One of the most iconic exchanges was between Soviet Spy, Rudolf Abel and American spy-plane pilot, Francis Gary Powers.