Background[ edit ] Ladislav Bittman graduated from Charles University in Prague in and was recruited by Czech intelligence. He describes information warfare tactics used by the Soviet Union, which they internally referred to as disinformation, intended to fool and defraud others. The author recounts covert operations that significantly affected international relations. Bittman writes that for disinformation covert operation campaigns to succeed, "every disinformation message must at least partially correspond to reality or generally accepted views".
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He served as a spy there before defecting in He was His partner, Liz Spaulding, confirmed the death. Martin-Bittman — whose original name was Ladislav Bittman — joined the Czech intelligence service out of university in as tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union were rising.
The Czech service, which collaborated with others in the Soviet-dominated Eastern bloc, was deeply involved in forgeries, like taking the signatures of United States diplomats from Christmas cards and using them on faked documents detailing supposed American conspiracies worldwide, and political sabotage, like setting up a brothel with the Soviets to trap West German politicians in compromising positions.
As a spy, Mr. Martin-Bittman operated from Berlin and Vienna, elite espionage postings during the Cold War on both sides. That year, he helped execute a wild plan to discredit West Germany.
By his account, a Czech television documentary crew was exploring Black Lake, southwest of Prague, in hopes of raising mysterious objects — possibly Nazi treasures — that they had spotted in earlier dives. Martin-Bittman, an experienced diver who posed as a Czech government official, led the crew into the water to retrieve the chests.
They were then taken away by intelligence officials claiming that they had to be X-rayed for explosives. While the cache was supposedly being examined, intelligence officers replaced the papers with what were billed as Third Reich documents that, when revealed publicly, indicated that former Nazis were spying for West Germany. Another Czech spy, Josef Frolik, wrote in that forged documents were dumped in the chests. In , he was posted to Vienna at the Czech Embassy.
He remained a dirty trickster until the summer of , when, angered at the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia now the Czech Republic and Slovakia , he defected to West Germany and was granted asylum in the United States, where he changed his name to Lawrence Michael Martin. He later added Bittman to his surname.
His defection, which led a military court in Czechoslovakia to sentence him to death, was considered a coup for the United States. Mark Wyatt, a retired senior C. He was 8 when Germany invaded Czechoslovakia in He later graduated from Charles University in Prague with degrees in journalism and international law.
When his 14 years of spying, forgeries and fake news ended with his defection, Mr. Martin-Bittman for the understated way in which he recalled his adventures in disinformation. Korbel wrote. In , Mr. He was pleased that the university took a chance on him. Like most good professors, he encouraged us to be skeptics. Martin-Bittman retired in the late s to spend his time painting watercolors.
In addition to Ms. Spaulding, he survived by his son, Michael Talmor; his daughter, Dr. Katerina Bittmanova; seven grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren. He was divorced twice and widowed once. Martin-Bittman gave a party after a court in the Czech Republic lifted his death sentence.
Lawrence Martin-Bittman, 87, Master of Disinformation, Dies