Col. Ryszard Kuklinski was the Polish army officer who supplied the CIA of
over 40,000 pages of Soviet secret military documents from 1972 until his
defection in 1981. Over nine years of secret cooperation, Col. Kuklinski
made 63 clandestine exchanges with the CIA inside Poland.
The documents detailed Soviet operational plans for surprise attacks on
Western Europe, scenarios for a nuclear launch, specifications for more than
200 advanced Soviet weapons systems, and details of Soviet plans to impose
Marshal law on Poland.
Since President Reagan ordered that the Pope receive relevant American
intelligence, Washington handed over to the Vatican reports and analysis
from Col. Kuklinski.
Colonel believed it was a STASI agent placed in Vatican, who found out about
the reports from "a senior member of the Polish General Staff"
In the middle of the night of November 7, 1981 the CIA evacuated colonel,
his wife and two sons from Warsaw and flew them to safety in the United
States. The colonel's wife did not know about his cooperation with the US
intelligence until that day.
Three years later, on May 23, 1984 Col. Kuklinski was sentenced to death, in
absentia, by a secret communist court in Warsaw.
In 1992 Kuklinski said "In the beginning I asked myself if I had a moral
right to do this [supply military secrets to CIA]. I was a Pole. I
understood that Poles should be free and that the United States was the only
country that might support the fight for freedom for Poland."
Col. Kuklinski paid very high price for his cooperation with the West.
In 1994, his younger son Bogdan and another man, both experienced sailors,
disappeared from the sailboat 70 miles from the Florida coast. The weather
was good. There was no SOS call from the boat. The diving suits remained not
used on the boat. The bodies were never found.
Half a year later, Col. Kuklinski's other son, Waldemar, was hit by a car
near the shopping mall.
The driver fled the scene, leaving no fingerprints inside the vehicle.
Colonel Kuklinski lived in the United States as an American citizen. He
resided in Florida under assumed name and government priotection.
When the colonel visited Poland in 1998,
after his conviction and death sentence for treason was finally overturned,
he was met by supporters as well as hostile critics, particularly among
veterans of the communist regime.
On February 5, 2004 Col. Kuklinski suffered a stroke and was hospitalized.
He died at a military hospital in Tampa on February 11, 2004.