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Focus Takes Rights to CIA Manhunt Thriller 'Circle of Treason,' on the Capture of Traitor Aldrich Ames

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by Beth Hanna
October 7, 2013 12:47 PM
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Cover detail of TIME Magazine from March 7, 1994

Focus Features has nabbed screen rights to Sandra Grimes and Jeanne Vertefeuille's "Circle of Treason: A CIA Account of Traitor Aldrich Ames and the Men He Betrayed." In the book, the authors describe systematically hunting down America's most notorious traitor, all the while pushing up against the CIA's institutionalized sexism.

Jeanne Vertefeuille, center

The movie would be a dramatic rendering of the search that took place in the late 1980s and early '90s. It clearly has echoes of "Zero Dark Thirty," making it an appealing project.

Vertefeuille, who died earlier this year at age 80, has a particularly fascinating story: She began as a typist in the CIA, and eventually rose in rank, assigned to foreign posts in locales like Ethiopia and Finland. She then made the transition to counterintelligence, where she met Grimes.

The two women saw how a slew of fellow agents were either being assassinated or imprisoned in the Soviet Union. Convinced there was a mole among them to be smoked out, Grimes and Vertefeuille ultimately took down Ames. He was being paid millions for his intel, and almost scraped out of the US without being caught.

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