In a rare admission of espionage reminiscent of the Cold War years, a former British government official admitted that a fake rock discovered in 2006 by Russian FSB secret services in a Moscow park concealed a listening device planted by British spies.

Speaking on a three-part BBC documentary series starting Thursday — “Putin, Russia and the West” — Jonathan Powell, chief of staff at the time to Labor Prime Minister Tony Blair, said, “The spy rock was embarrassing, they had us bang to rights. Clearly they had known about it for some time and had been saving it up for a political purpose.”

Hidden Russian TV cameras recorded video of the rock and men handling it. The video was widely broadcast at the time with the Russian commentary along with video showing the rock being taken apart to reveal the delicate listening mechanism inside.

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