LONDON -- Yugoslavia knew Austrian President Kurt Waldheim was allegedly involved in Nazi war crimes as early as 1947, leaving him vulnerable to the 'Soviet intelligence net' throughout his public career, the Sunday Express newspaper reported.
The newspaper reported that Yugoslavia's then-senior intelligence officer Anon Kolendic, who was based in Vienna, said he gave Waldheim's war crime file to the Soviet KGB in 1948 and was 'positive' they used the file against him.
Early editions of the newspaper published Saturday night said Yugoslavia had information on the alleged Nazi war crime involvement of Waldheim, U.N. secretary general throughout the 1970s, and a Yugoslav intelligence memo 'suggests that the information should be used to pressurize Waldheim into actions favorable to Yugoslavia.'
Saying it had obtained a verified copy of the memo, the Express reported that 'once hooked by the Yugoslavs, Waldheim may well have been drawn inexorably into the Soviet intelligence net' as well.
The newspaper said the top-secret memo, dated December 1947, detailed Waldheim's involvement in war crimes.
The memo also pointed out: 'Waldheim, who was responsible for hostages and had contacts with collaborators, is not only a free person but as a secretary (at the time) in the (Austrian) Ministry of Foreign Affairs can be of value to the interests of Yugoslavia,' the Express reported.
The newspaper said sources who served in the Yugoslav Intelligence Agency have confirmed that a request for Waldheim's extradition to Yugoslavia to stand trial for war crimes was canceled.
Confronted with the Express report, a Walheim spokesman in Vienna said the war crimes charges and claims he was open to blackmail were a smear campaign.
'These charges have been made before, and Mr. Waldheim has repeatedly stated that no attempt perceivable by him was made by any Soviet or Yugoslav agents,' his spokesman, Gerold Christian, told the newspaper.
But the newspaper said the memo -- from Uros N. Djaelic, then chief of Yugoslavia's Foreign Ministry legal bureau -- constitutes 'extraordinary evidence' that Waldheim 'has been open to Soviet and Yugoslav blackmail throughout his public career.'
The Express said 'the shattering implication' was that Waldheim 'could have been used throughout his public career as a cat's paw of Eastern bloc diplomacy' and added 'the circumstantial evidence clearly points to the probability that Waldheim was under the influence of the Eastern bloc.'
Although a communist state, Yugoslavia, under the leadership of Marshal Tito, broke with the Soviet Union in 1948 and pursued an independent foreign policy.