CIA decorates two ex-agents, jailed in China for 20 years
WASHINGTON (AFP) - The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has recognised two former intelligence agents who spent more than 20 years jailed in China after their plane was shot down.
The two agents, Mr John Downey and Mr Richard Fecteau, were awarded the "Distinguished Intelligence Cross", the CIA's highest honour, during a ceremony held on an unspecified date last month, the CIA said in a statement issued on Monday.
During a mission in November 1952, the two men were trying to retrieve an agent from Chinese territory, by flying a plane close to the ground allowing him to hook on. "The agent, who unbeknownst to (the) CIA had been compromised by the Chinese, had promised valuable information in clandestine messages to his (agency) handlers," the agency recounted in its statement.
When the plane swooped down to grab him, "Chinese anti-aircraft fire erupted", bringing down the plane. Two members of the team were killed, but Mr Downey and Mr Fecteau survived - though when weeks passed with no contact, the CIA assumed they had died. Their families were sent letters claiming the men had died in an accident on a commercial flight.