304: Barbara Verica – Tracking Arne Treholt, Soviet Spy

Retired Agent Barbara Verica reviews her espionage case as a first-time, untrained, undercover agent in Manhattan, gathering intelligence and the evidence to prove that Norwegian diplomat Arne Treholt was selling secrets to the former Soviet Union.

The investigation was initiated on behalf of the Norwegian security service who had received information that Treholt, assigned as a member of the Norwegian delegation to the United Nations, was a spy. Barbara’s undercover task—move into the apartment next door and track Treholt’s movements. But things quickly became much more complex when Barbara became friends with Treholt’s wife, Kari Storækre.

(We previously reviewed this case in Episode 018, which was removed from the FBI Retired Case File Review backlist. During this episode, Barbara and I explained why she’s now free to talk about the investigation and agreed to a do-over.)

Barbara served in the FBI for 30 years.

She worked counter-intelligence matters in the New York and Philadelphia Divisions for the first 15 years of her career and investigated economic crimes in the Resident Agency out of Philadelphia for the last fifteen.

Special Agent (Retired)

Barbara Verica

08/1979 – 07/2009

 

 

 

 

 

 

“One day I’m walking out and the elevator door dings like it usually does. I’m thinking, okay, my elevator’s here. I turn around and he’s getting off the elevator, walking right toward me.”—Retired Agent Barbara Verica

The following are links to articles, books, and a documentary about the investigation of Arne Treholt as a Soviet spy, betraying Norway and international security partners:

NRK – 11/9/2019: “They squeezed me like a lemon” (Use Google Translate for English)

NRK – 11/9/2019:  “It developed into something of an orgy”  (Use Google Translate for English)

NRK – 1/20/2022: When Barbara tricked Arne  (Use Google Translate for English)

New York Times – 2/16/2023: Arne Treholt, 80, Dies; Diplomat Convicted of Spying for Soviets

BBC Select Documentary – National Security: The Treholt Story

The Spy and the Traitor: The Greatest Espionage Story of the Cold War by Ben McIntyre

Listen to more FBI Retired Case File Review episodes featuring spies and espionage here.

After joining the FBI in 1979, Barbara Verica, a former biology teacher from Indiana, is assigned to Manhattan to work counter-intelligence.
Barbara’s initial assignment is to simply track Arne Treholt’s movement to and from his home and his job as a member of the Norwegian delegation at the United Nations.
Barbara and squad mate Jim Downey (on the right) in their undercover roles as Barbara and Jim Glennon with neighbors Arne Treholt and his wife Kari, at Yankee Stadium in New York in 1981 with baseball player Rick Cerone.
Under surveillance by the Norwegian Security, Arne Treholt was photographed with two K.G.B. officers, Gennady Titov, center, and Aleksandr Lopatin prior to his arrest on espionage charges.
Former FBI Director William Webster (third from left) recognizes Barbara, along with Norwegian security service partners, Jonas Sagli, John Berg-Pettersen, and FBI team members Jim Downey, Gene Gray, and Tim Almon for their outstanding work on the Treholt investigation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jerri Williams

View posts by Jerri Williams
Jerri Williams, a retired FBI agent, author and podcaster, jokes that she writes about the FBI to relive her glory days. After 26 years with the Bureau specializing in major economic fraud and corruption investigations, she calls on her professional encounters with scams and schemers to write police procedurals inspired by true crime FBI cases in her Philadelphia FBI Corruption Squad crime fiction series featuring flawed female FBI agent Kari Wheeler. Jerri’s FBI for Armchair Detectives nonfiction series enables readers to discover who the FBI is and what the FBI does by debunking misconceptions about the FBI in books, TV, and movies. Her books are available as ebooks, paperbacks, and audiobooks wherever books are sold. She’s also the host of FBI Retired Case File Review, a true crime podcast with more than 250 episodes available for free on all popular podcast apps.

2 Comments

  1. Alastair RosieDecember 23, 2023

    Great episode, thanks. I just saw a Netflix documentary series on spies and one of them was Gordievsky. Fascinating character, he was a dedicated Marxist until 1968 when the Soviets put down the uprising in Prague.

    Reply
    1. Jerri WilliamsDecember 23, 2023

      Thanks for listening. Gordievsky risked his life to provide significant intelligence the UK and US.

      Reply

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