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"Unbearable Lightness" Author Kundera Informed On Western Spy, Document Shows

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PRAGUE, Czech Republic — A document written by the Czech Communist police claims that Milan Kundera _ author of "The Unbearable Lightness of Being" _ once informed on a purported Western spy, a state-sponsored institute said Monday. Kundera quickly denied the claims.

The Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes said a team of historians and researchers found a document written by the SNB, or Czech Communist police, that identified Kundera as the person who informed on a man who was later imprisoned for 14 years.

The usually reclusive Kundera rushed to reject the charge.

"I am totally astonished by something that I did not expect, about which I knew nothing only yesterday, and that did not happen. I did not know the man at all," Kundera was quoted as saying by the CTK news agency.

Kundera accused the institute and the media of "the assassination of an author."

According to the file, published on the institute's Web site, Kundera in 1950 informed on Miroslav Dvoracek, who had been recruited in Germany by the Czech emigre intelligence network to work as a spy against the Communist regime.

Dvoracek visited a woman in Prague and left a suitcase in her apartment. She told her boyfriend, who later told Kundera, and Kundera went to the police.

Dvoracek was arrested when he came to collect the suitcase. He was later sentenced to 22 years in prison and eventually served 14, working in uranium mines.

Collaboration with the Communist Party was widespread in Czechoslovakia. The country was one of the first to publish the names of alleged collaborators, as part of the so-called "screening process" in 1991.

The Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes has been assigned by the Czech government to collect and publish Communist-era files. It is widely viewed as credible.

Kundera joined the Communist Party as a student, but was expelled after criticizing its totalitarian nature. After the 1968 Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia crushed the liberal reforms of Alexander Dubcek, he left the country.

The books Kundera wrote after his departure were banned from publication in his homeland until the Communist collapse in 1989, but his work was respected among dissidents.

Kundera, 79, has lived in France since 1975 and it is there that he published his most famous books, including "The Unbearable Lightness of Being," "The Book of Laughter and Forgetting," "The Art of the Novel" and "Immortality." He was granted French citizenship in 1981.

The author lives in virtual seclusion, only travels to his former homeland incognito and never speaks to the media.