A KGB Line X scientific intelligence specialist, Vetrov had been posted to Ottawa, where he was pitched unsuccessfully by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Security Service, before he was transferred to Paris where he was recruited by the Direction de la Surveillance du Territoire in 1980. The French ran him in Moscow with a military attaché sent for the purpose, who operated outside the usual Direction Générale de Sécurité Extérieure channels to protect the source, and gave him the English code name FAREWELL to imply that he was being handled by a foreign service. In February 1982 Vetrov was convicted of killing a man and stabbing his girlfriend and was sentenced to 12 years in prison. However, in 1984 the KGB learned that Vetrov had engaged in espionage, and he was executed.
In the short period he was active as a spy, FAREWELL provided the French with a wealth of information about technology transfer and the KGB’s illicit acquisition of Western scientific and commercial secrets. This knowledge was traded by President François Mitterrand to the Americans to demonstrate that France’s reputation for high-level penetration, Communist influence, and poor security was no longer justified. Precisely how the KGB came to find out about Vetrov’s espionage remains one of the Cold War’s unsolved mysteries.