Espionage in the United States

Espionage is the practice of spying or using spies to obtain information about the plans and activities especially of a foreign government or a competing company.*

Robert HanssenSpying is considered a crime in many countries with harsh punishments, including death. The United States passed the federal law called the Espionage Act of 1917. Throughout the years, the law has been modified many times.

One of the FBI’s mission is to protect the United States against foreign intelligence operations and espionage. In June 2010, eleven Russian spies were charged in two separate criminal complaints of espionage. The suspects were acting as unlawful agents of the Russian Federation within the United States. While the FBI has always listed Russia as one of their top five intelligence threats many US citizen thought the Russian threat was over along with the Cold War.

There have been many espionage arrests made throughout the years and in 1985 there were so many it’s often referred to as the Year of the Spy. Among the arrests, the one that many people came to know through the movie, Breach, was that of Robert Hanssen. This case is found in Solved Cases exhibit area of the museum.

Spy Movies

While James Bonds definitely glamorized the spy world, don’t be fooled! It’s a very dangerous business. There have been so many spy movies created, here are some of the museum top picks… The Hunt for Red October, all the James Bond films, Munich, The Bourne Identity, Breach and Salt.


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