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Espionage is the governmental or corporate practice of obtaining secrets (spying) from rivals or enemies for military, political, or economic advantage. A spy is an agent employed to obtain such secrets. Historically the definition was restricted to a state spying on potential or actual enemies, primarily for military purposes, but has extended to spying involving corporations, known specifically as Industrial espionage. Most nations routinely spy on their enemies, and allies, although they generally deny this. Black’s Law Dictionary (1990) defines espionage as: “…gathering, transmitting, or losing…[information related to the national defense].” Espionage, by a citizen of the target state, is generally considered to be a form of treason.

The word “espionage” in governmental language has been replaced by the doublespeak “intelligence”; thus intelligence agency for “espionage agency”.

The Cold War involved intense espionage activity between the United States of America and its allies and the Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China and their allies, particulary related to nuclear weapons secrets.

Recently, espionage agencies have targeted the illegal drug trade and terrorists.

Notable spies or alleged spies

  • Aldrich Ames, CIA agent spying for the Soviet Union

  • Rosario Ames, wife of Aldrich Ames

  • James Armistead

  • Moe Berg

  • Jacques Cousteau

  • Mansfield Cummings

  • Cambridge Five

  • Klaus Fuchs, physicist who supplied information about the British and American atomic bomb research to the Soviet Union

  • G�nter Guillaume, spy for East Germany who caused the resignation of German Chancellor Willy Brandt

  • Nathan Hale

  • Theodore Hall

  • Robert Hanssen, FBI agent convicted of spying for the Soviet Union

  • Reino Hayhanen

  • Mata Hari, double spy for France and Germany during World War I

  • Harold Nicholson

  • Kim Philby

  • Earl Edwin Pitts

  • Jonathan Pollard, U.S. Navy intelligence officer convicted of spying for Israel

  • Alfred Redl

  • Sidney Reilly

  • Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, American civilians executed for espionage for the Soviet Union

  • Rainer Rupp, spy for East Germany in NATO headquarters

  • Saville Sax

  • Richard Sorge

  • Markus Wolf, director of the espionage operations of East Germany

Espionage organizations

  • Israel: Mossad

  • Soviet Union: KGB

  • UK: MI5 and MI6


Intelligence disciplines

  • SIGINT – Intelleigence gathered by intercepting communications.

  • HUMINT – Intelligence gathered by a person on the ground.

  • ELINT – Intelligence gathered from electronic sensors.

  • OSINT – Intelligence gathered from open sources.



Espionage technology and techniques

  • Cryptography

  • Steganography

  • Echelon

  • Spy satellite

  • Ultra

  • The U-2 spy plane

Counter-espionage technology and techniques

  • TEMPEST – Protection devices for communication equipment.

Fictional spies

  • John Clark

  • Domingo Chavez

  • James Bond

  • Maxwell Smart

  • Carmen and Juni Cortez

Licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses materials from the Wikipedia.

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