Washington — The State Department has confirmed that Vitaly Yurchenko, in charge of all Soviet foreign intelligence operations for the United States and Canada, has defected to the United States. The department does not usually announce such defections but officials said Friday that Yurchenko, who arrived in the United States in August, had requested his presence kept secret until now.

Officials have said that Yurchenko was responsible for identifying former CIA analyst Edward Howard as a Soviet “mole” inside the agency. Howard, who is being sought by the FBI has disappeared and is believed to have left the country. According to the State Department, Yurchenko served as deputy chief in the North American department of the KGB’s first directorate, the department of foreign intelligence. Yurchenko was specifically responsible for the direction of KGB intelligence operations in the United States and Canada, the State Department said.

The department also said Yurchenko had previously been working with counterintelligence and had been posted to the Soviet Embassy in Washington as a diplomat.

The Washington assignment suggested that Yurchenko, who defected in Rome, had actually been working for U.S. intelligence before he left the Soviet Union.

Other than saying that Yurchenko was in the United States, the State Department would comment about the former KGB agent’s whereabouts.

Article extracted from this publication >>  October 18, 1985