Harris, Katherine

(1900–1966)
   One the most quixotic of the Soviet illegals was Kitty Harris. Born in England, she moved to Canada as a child. Along with her siblings, she became involved in communist politics in her teens and was recruited as an illegal in the late 1920s. Harris served in China with Earl Browder and was his lover, and possibly his wife, on a Comintern mission. In the 1930s, Harris was entrusted with handling important agents for the NKVD. She was Donald Maclean’s case officer for two years; a relationship that became romantic. All communications from Maclean to the Soviet service went through Harris in the late 1930s. In the 1940s Harris was handling agents in the United States and Mexico. Her code name was “Ada.”
   While Harris was an effective agent handler, her lack of discipline drove her Soviet masters to distraction. She apparently repeatedly had affairs with agents, and often disregarded Moscow’s direct orders to break off compromising relationships. In 1946 she was exfiltrated to the Soviet Union, where she was detained by the ever suspicious MGB, seeking reasons for the collapse of American networks. After spending 10 years in prison, she was released in 1956. She died in the Soviet Union in 1966.
   See also Venona.

Historical dictionary of Russian and Soviet Intelligence. . 2014.

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