(Getty Images/Gary M. Prior)

According to a report by the Sunday Times, a former CIA agent has finally admitted what has long been suspected: the CIA was involved in the arrest of Nelson Mandela.

Two weeks before he died, 88-year-old Donald Rickard, told filmmaker John Irvin that his tip led to Mandela’s arrest. Rickard described Mandela as “the world’s most dangerous communist outside of the Soviet Union” and insisted that the 1962 arrest, which led to Mandela’s imprisonment for 27 years, was necessary.

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At the time, Rickard was working as US vice consul in the South African city of Durban when he discovered that Mandela was headed to Natal.

“I found out when he was coming down and how he was coming… that’s where I was involved and that’s where Mandela was caught,” said Rickard, who claimed that Mandela was going to “incite” a mass rebellion against the apartheid regime.

“Natal was a cauldron at the time,” said Rickard, “and Mandela would have welcomed a war. If the Soviets had come in force, the United States would have had to get involved, and things could have gone to hell.”

“We were teetering on the brink here and it had to be stopped, which meant Mandela had to be stopped. And I put a stop to it,” he says.

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Mandela was arrested in 1962 and sentenced to life imprisonment for conspiracy to overthrow the government.  He served 18 of 27 years on Robben Island and later went on to be elected President of South Africa, serving as the country’s first black chief executive.

Zizi Kodwa, the current national spokesman of Mandela’s ruling party the African National Congress (ANC) party, said the CIA agent’s admission is “a serious indictment” but not surprising.

“We always knew there was always collaboration between some Western countries and the apartheid regime,” he told the AFP.  “It is still happening now — the CIA is still collaborating with those who want regime change.”

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