A former CIA spy admits that his tip led to Nelson Mandela’s arrest and long imprisonment.
The Sunday Times, the largest selling British national Sunday newspaper, reports that a former CIA spy has admitted that his tip led to the arrest of Nelson Mandela, leading to the future South African president’s trial and imprisonment for nearly 28 years.
As The Guardian reports, “Donald Rickard, a former US vice-consul in Durban and CIA operative, told British film director John Irvin that he had been involved in Mandela’s arrest in 1962, which was seen as necessary because the Americans believed he was ‘completely under the control of the Soviet Union,’ according to a report in the Sunday Times newspaper.”
Unrepentant, Rickard stated that Mandela was “the most dangerous communist” outside of the Soviet Union, although Mandela himself always denied being a member of the Communist Party.
“He could have incited a war in South Africa, the United States would have to get involved, grudgingly, and things could have gone to hell,” Rickard told Irvin.
“We were teetering on the brink here and it had to be stopped, which meant Mandela had to be stopped. And I put a stop to it.”
BBC News reports that “Rumours have circulated for years that the CIA trailed Mandela but the agency resisted previous attempts to shine a light on its alleged involvement in his arrest. Rickard’s admission will bring renewed pressure to declassify documents from the time.”
Mandela “led the armed resistance movement of the banned ANC, and was one of the most wanted men in South Africa at the time of his arrest,” according to BBC News.
His ability to evade the security services had earned him the nickname “the black Pimpernel”.
He was posing as a chauffeur when his car was stopped at a roadblock by the police in the eastern city of Durban in 1962 and he was detained.
“I found out when he was coming down and how he was coming… that’s where I was involved and that’s where Mandela was caught,” Rickard is quoted as saying.
The Guardian reports that “Zizi Kodwa, national spokesman of Mandela’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) party, called the revelation ‘a serious indictment.'”
“We always knew there was always collaboration between some western countries and the apartheid regime,” he said.
Rickard died in March, two weeks after talking to Irvin in the US.
The CIA declined to answer inquiries from The Guardian.
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