Who is a was Karl F. Koecher

Josef Schrabal

Dear Mr. Culik,

With great interest I was reading a very long and detailed explanation by Karl F. Koecher in yesterday's BL.

This worldwide well known spy is not so well known back home in the Czech country - as I learned during my several visits of Prague. At least in the U.S. he is well known: Since October 1984 till February 1985 his name took place on the first pages of American newspapers. Koecher is one of the very few foreign agents of Soviet KGB who succeeded to infiltrate the American CIA. The book of former NY Times and Washington Post reporter Ronald Kessler about Koecher, "Spy vs. spy", was on the list of the most popular books for a long time.

I noticed that Koecher is describing in his letter to you [to B.L. - Culik] all the events in every detail until the end when he comes to the name of "Vaclav Havel" in 1976. From here on Koecher has only questions, quoestions about "fall of the totalitarian empire", an effort to "do much more for the cause of democracy than just by signing a petitions?" and "that the secret service must have been the primary undermining influence" in dismantling the regime indirectly leading to a question whether the "velvet revolution" [in 1989] was a revolution at all? But back to Koecher; was he a double or triple agent? Now he is perhaps one of very few Czechs on the "ibm.net" to where I am e-mailing him a copy of these remarks.

I looked into my data-base and extracted a few facts for readers in the Czech Republic:

It's year 1995

A few weeks ago was published a decision of a Czech court dismissing a complaint of Mrs. Hana Koecher complaining that publicizing information about hers spy activity is damaging her business in Prague.

It's year 1994

Prague's daily newspapers published an article that worldwide known spy Karel Koecher works now for premier of the Czech government Vaclav Klaus. This information was denied as false.

It's March 1990

NEW YORK: Sixty Czech authors, poets, journalists and literary agents met in March, 1990 at the NYU (New York University). Conference was attended by author Ivan Klima, Eda Kriseova, from underground Egon Bondy, Ivan Jirous, journalist Jachym Topol a Frantisek Starek from Vokno. Also were present Mayor of Prague Jaroslav Koran and spokesman of the Czech President Michael Zantovsky.

On Monday afternoon, March 19, 1990, the conference and lecture of five best known translators was interrupted by announcement that member of the Czechoslovak government was on a street "by chance" passing the NYU and "somebody" requested him to greet the conference. On the platform was introduced Vice-Premier Walter Komarek. After a few sentences of greetings and thanks for organizing this affair, his speech was interrupted by an elderly man from the overcrowded auditorium:

"Mr Komarek, is it true that internationally known spy, the only one who succeeded to infiltrate American CIA for soviet KGB, Karel F. Koecher, who is responsible for death of many people, is your consultant and consultant of the government of Czechoslovakia?

"That is not altogether true, he is not my consultant," answered Komarek, "I know him and know that now he is in Prague, retired, living out of a pension."

"Who is paying him the pension," the attendee continues, "since this spy was exchanged between the U.S. and the Soviet government to Moscow?"

The american sponsors organizing this conference interrupted this line of questioning that it is undesirable, unscheduled and asked Mr. Komarek to apologize for his unexpected presentation.

History of the exchange

For a nearly nine years the West was unsuccessfully trying to liberate out of the soviet prison Russian dissident Anatoly B Shcharansky convicted for 19-year prison. It took so long because the West didn't have anybody as valuable to equal Shcharansky 's exchange - that is till year 1986.

On the morning of February 11th, 1986, a biting cold day, tired little fellow in black coat, wearing a fur hat and baggy pants, Shcharansky, began to cross the 100 meters of neutral zone of the Glienicker Bridge which links the East Germany with West Berlin. From the other side of the bridge half an hour later began to walk two persons in the opposite direction, one with mustache and fur-lined coat in a business suit, with a jolly smile, Karel Koecher, behind him his wife Hana, a blond and sexy with big blue eyes in luxurious mink coat and high white mink hat, reminiscent of a movie star. Thew exchange was completed!

Small news in the Western press noted that a spy named Koecher, trained by a Czech intelligence school in 1963-65, who was working for soviet KGB and was one of the very few infiltrating in 1973-77 the American CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) was exchanged for Anatoly B Shcharansky.

Koecher arrived to the United States December 5th, 1965 pretending he is an emigrant from Czechoslovakia. He infiltrated the CIA in 1973 as a translator. Besides he had a business Novissa Corp. [president] with jewelry. He bought an apartment, condominium in one of the best residential houses in New York, in the 32-story Park Regis at 50 East 89 Street. Koecher pretended that he worked for the Radio Free Europe in Germany (which was financed by the CIA), that he is a security officer of the US Army. He offered to the management of the building his help with security, reason for which was then elected to the Board.

Koecher pretended that he is strongly against communism. When tennis star Ivan Lendl was interested to buy a condo in that building (50 E 89 St) Koecher declared that he wouldn't live with "a such communist" under the same roof and should the Board agree to sell a condo to Lendl that he [Koecher] would resign from his security chief function and from the Board. The Board sold a condo to Lendl and Koecher didn't resign any of his functions in the house.

As a CIA translator Koecher managed to copy letters of employees and correspondents of the CIA home in the USA and in the foreign countries. His wife Hanna would then take care of delivery to the KGB, most frequently in Switzerland. Well known is the case of Alexander Ogorodnik, a soviet diplomat in Moscow who was labeled by Koecher as cooperator with the american intelligence, arrested and while being abused during interrogation by soviet KGB committed suicide by swallowing a poison pill hidden in his Mont Blank pen.

Koecher was also trying to offer his cooperation to the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation), promising infiltration into the Czech and soviet intelligence services and discover their agents working in the USA.

Koecher also introduced his wife Hana to a few sexual swingers clubs in New York, such as the Plato Retreat, practicing free love and wife's swap. Here he made acquaintances and learns names of important people participating in these clubs to sell this information to the KGB, or for blackmail or getting military secretes.

Finally the FBI caught him. After getting a promise that they will let hi go free, he admitted everything. Then, the FBI released Koecher.

After his release, Koecher sold his condo for $260 000 and was preparing to leave the USA. Three hours before departure For Zurich, at four o'clock afternoon on November 27, 1984 was Koecher arrested.


New York, November 27, 1984:
After his arrest, two FBI agents
are escorting handcuffed Koecher (in center) to jail.

Photo js

Instead of denying and go through the american judiciary, Koecher fabricated an extraordinary plan how to get out of the espionage endightment.Through his acquaintances in the swingers clubs, Koecher engaged an attorney from Georgia (Robert G. Fierer) and offered him a quarter of million dollars received form the sale of his condo, to arrange the exchange of spy for a spy.

The attorney succeeded to convince the Soviets to accept Koecher's plan. [Actually it was Hana's father Josef Pardamec who, as a communist official convince CSFR President Gustav Husak to press acceptance in Moscow.] The Koecher's idea was in that if he [Koecher] is exchange for Shcharansky, that is one spy for another spy, the whole world will be convince that Shcharansky was only a spy (as claimed by the Soviets) and not dissident protecting human rights under the Helsinki proclamation. The Soviets bought this idea and for the very first time in history released information about the exchange to the western media only to support the idea that Shcharansky is only a spy

Koecher is now 56 years old [in 1999 be 65 years old] and his wife Hana is about ten years younger.

(Zdroj, the NY Times 28. listopadu 1984, 2. prosince 1984, 13. ledna a 8. února 1985, NY Tribune 7. kvetna, 28-29. listopadu, 2. prosince 1984, NY POost, AP, UPI a Reuters.)

Back - Nazpet k menu


[Editorial remarks]
While Koecher denies the incident and his opposition to sell a condo to tennist star Lendl, it is based upon several testimonies of their neighbors as published in several daily papers. ("Spy tried to blackball tennis star" NY Post Nov. 28, 1984)

Because of their lavish and expensive style of living, the CIA started to suspect Karl for "leak and was giving him less and less important assignments. Accordingly Koecher had no reason to contact the Czech headquarters was three years. He was not able to secure a steady employment for over seven years. Case was under investigation by the FBI for over two years prior to their arrest.

On February 3, 1986 Koecher pleaded guilty before federal judge Kram in a secret proceeding and convicted to life sentence (he and his wife) stripped of their US Citizenship and forbidden to ever enter the US again.

The US Attorney prosecuting Koechers was Rudolph Giuliani (presently Mayor of NYC). Original attorney defending arrested Koecher was Michael Kennedy.

After the exchange Koecher and his wife received hero's welcome from the CSFR for their dedication to the communist party, a new Volvo car and a new villa near Prague. Koecher was employed at the CSAV (Czech Academy of Sciences) and as an analyst at the Prague Institute for Economic Forecasting, where he was associated with former premier Vaclav Klaus, former Vice-Priminister Walter Komarek, former minister Vladimir Dlouhy and current premier Milos Zeman and long list of others.