Oreste Pinto

Oreste Pinto (9 October 1889 in Amsterdam, the Netherlands – 18 September 1961 in London, England) was a Dutch counterintelligence officer and Lieutenant-Colonel. His activities during the Second World War, in which he worked with MI5 interrogating refugees to England, resulted in the capture of eight spies.


During the Second World War, Pinto was an MI5 interrogator.[1] He interviewed over 30,000 immigrants to the UK at the euphemistically named "London Reception Centre" in the Royal Victoria Patriotic Building in Wandsworth.[2][3]

In 1952, Pinto published two books, Spy-catcher and Friend or Foe?  These formed the basis of the 1959-1961 BBC television series Spycatcher, and also an earlier BBC Radio series, in both of which he was portrayed by Bernard Archard. A further book, Spycatcher 2, based on the series, was published in 1960. The 1962 Dutch programme De Fuik, in which Pinto was portrayed by Frits Butzelaar,[4] was also derived from them.

Dwight Eisenhower once described Pinto as "the greatest living authority on security".[5] The Daily Telegraph referred to him as a "human bloodhound".[6] Conversely, Guy Liddell stated in 1942 that he had been told that Pinto had "a thoroughly bad record".[7]

Pinto's career in intelligence began in 1913, when he was recruited by the Deuxième Bureau.[8]

He characterized himself as basically a generalist, with a knack for learning languages, skill in boxing and shooting ("I managed to reach amateur international standard,"[9]), and being an excellent bridge player and a "local" zoologist.


  • Spycatcher. Werner Laurie, 1952
  • Friend or Foe? Werner Laurie, 1953
  • Spycatcher 2. Four Square, 1963


  1. Pinto, Lt. Col. Oreste (1952). "Spycatcher". Werner Laurie. Missing or empty |url= (help)
  2. Tobia, Simona (January 2014). "'A brutally tough place for brutally tough people'". History Today. 64.
  3. "History of the Royal Victoria Patriotic School". Royal Victoria Patriotic School. Retrieved 8 June 2012.
  4. De Fuik, at Beeld en Geluid; retrieved May 23, 2012
  5. "- TIME". Time. September 29, 1961. Retrieved 2008-06-05.
  6. Pinto, Oreste (1889-1961), by B.G.J. de Graaff, in Biografisch Woordenboek van Nederland (archived at Utrecht University; published 05-09-2003; retrieved 23-05-2012
  7. The Guy Liddell Diaries: MI5’s Director of Counter-Espionagein World War II (volume 1, 1939-1942), by Guy Liddell (edited by Nigel West); published 2005 by Taylor & Francis
  8. Spycatcher, by Robert Barr, in the Radio Times, published August 28, 1959; archived at Toobworld; posted May 8, 2008; retrieved January 31, 2016
  9. Spy-catcher, at the beginning of the chapter "Like Father, Like Son"
This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.