December 08, 2015

"You know Theremin for the musical instrument which bears his name."

hackaday In the spy business though, he is known as the creator of one of the most successful clandestine listening devices ever used against the American government. by Adam Fabio

'The date was August 4, 1945. The european war was over, and the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima was only two days away. A group of 10 to 15 year old boys from the Young Pioneer Organization of the Soviet Union arrived at the US embassy carrying a hand carved great seal of the United States of America. They presented the seal to W. Averell Harriman, the US ambassador to the Soviet Union. The seal was given as a gesture of friendship between the US and Soviet Union. Harriman hung the plaque in the study of his residence, Spaso House. Unbeknownst to Harriman, the seal contained Theremin’s sophisticated listening device. The device, later known as “The Thing”, would not be discovered until 1952 — roughly seven years later.

'The discovery of the great seal listening device is an interesting one. British broadcasters reported hearing American voices on the their radios in the vicinity of the American embassy. No Americans were transmitting though, which meant there had to be a bug. Numerous sweeps were performed, all of which turned up nothing. Joseph Bezjian had a hunch though. He stayed at the embassy pretending to be a house guest. His equipment was shipped in separately, disguised from Russian eyes. Powering up his equipment, Bezjian began a sweep of the building. With his receiver tuned to 1.6 GHz, he heard the bug’s audio, and quickly isolated the source in the great seal. Close inspection of the carving found it had been hollowed out, and a strange device placed behind the eagle’s beak. No batteries or wires were evident, and the device was not powered through the nail which had been hanging the seal. Bezjian removed the device from the great seal and was so cautious that he slept with it under his pillow that night for safe keeping. The next day he sent it back to Washington for analysis.'

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