Most of the 1,248 employees around Radio Free Europe's Munich headquarters liked to grumble about the food in the small, spartan cellar cafeteria. Nonetheless, they were irked when without explanation the cafeteria was closed down last month. The union representing RFE's polyglot American, East European exile and German staff went to management to find out why.

The explanation that came from high-powered RFE Director Erik Hazelhoff, 42, onetime NBC executive, was really bizarre, even to those who work in an atmosphere of exposing intrigues. By the sudden closing, Hazelhoff announced dramatically, RFE had averted "an attempted mass poisoning"; a double agent...

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