Double agent

In the field of counterintelligence, a double agent (also double secret agent) is an employee of a secret intelligence service for one country, whose primary purpose is to spy on a target organization of another country, but who, in fact, has been discovered by the target organization and is now spying on their own country's organization for the target organization.[1]

Double agentry may be practiced by spies of the target organization who infiltrate the controlling organization or may result from the turning (switching sides) of previously loyal agents of the controlling organization by the target. The threat of execution is the most common method of turning a captured agent (working for an intelligence service) into a double agent (working for a foreign intelligence service) or a double agent into a re-doubled agent. It is unlike a defector, who is not considered an agent as agents are in place to function for an intelligence service and defectors are not, but some consider that defectors in place are agents until they have defected.

Double agents are often used to transmit disinformation or to identify other agents as part of counter-espionage operations. They are often very trusted by the controlling organization since the target organization will give them true, but useless or even counterproductive, information to pass along.[2]

Double agents

  Double agent   Re-doubled agent   Mole

Examples of known double agents and moles
Context Agent Nationality Loyal to Spying on Comments References
Wars of the Three Kingdoms
1639 – 1651
Samuel Morland England English England Restoration Commonwealth of England Commonwealth of England  
Richard Willis England English Commonwealth of England Commonwealth of England England Restoration  
World War I
1914 – 1918
Mata Hari Netherlands Dutch German Empire German Empire France French Third Republic  
World War II
1939 – 1945
Mathilde Carré "La Chatte" France French United Kingdom Double-Cross System
Roman Czerniawski "Brutus" Poland Polish United Kingdom Double-Cross System
Eddie Chapman "ZigZag" England English United Kingdom Double-Cross System Infiltrated the German Abwehr during World War II whilst feeding intelligence to MI5. He was so trusted by the Germans that he is reportedly the only British citizen to have ever been awarded the Iron Cross
Walter Dicketts "Celery" England English United Kingdom Double-Cross System (1940-1943) Ex RNAS officer sent to Lisbon and Germany to infiltrate the Abwehr, report on invasion plans for Britain, and establish the bona fides of Snow (subsequently imprisoned until the end of war). Subjected to an intensive five-day interrogation in Hamburg and survived.[3] Later sent back to Lisbon to persuade Abwehr officer, George Sessler, to defect and worked undercover in Brazil.
Roger Grosjean "Fido" France French United Kingdom Double-Cross System French Air Force pilot who worked for the British
Christiaan Lindemans "King Kong" Netherlands Dutch Nazi Germany Abwehr (1944) Netherlands United Kingdom SOE (1940-1944)
Dutch resistance (1941-1944)
Arthur Owens "Snow" Wales Welsh United Kingdom Double-Cross System  
Johann-Nielsen Jebsen
"Jonny" "Artist"
German Empire German Nazi Germany Abwehr (1939-1941)
United Kingdom MI6 (1941-1945)
Nazi Germany Abwehr (1941-1945) Anti-Nazi German intelligence officer and British double agent. Jebsen recruited Dušan Popov.
Ivan Popov "LaLa" "Aesculap" "Dreadnought" "Hans" Kingdom of Yugoslavia Serbian Kingdom of Yugoslavia VOA (1939-1945)
Nazi Germany Abwehr (1940-1944)
United Kingdom MI6 (1941-1945)
Nazi Germany Abwehr (1941-1945) Yugoslav working for his national military agency VOA. He also worked for British MI6 and German Abwehr. In German Gestapo he held rank of Obersturmbannführer. Brother of Dušan Popov.
Dušan Popov "Duško" "Tricycle" "Ivan" Kingdom of Yugoslavia Serbian Kingdom of Yugoslavia VOA (1939-1945)
Nazi Germany Abwehr (1940-1941)
United Kingdom MI6 (1940-1945)
Nazi Germany Abwehr (1941-1945) Yugoslav working for his national military agency VOA. He also worked for British MI6 and German Abwehr. In British army he held rank of Colonel. Brother of Ivan Popov.
John Herbert Neal Moe "Mutt and Jeff" Norway Norwegian United Kingdom Double-Cross System  
Tor Glad "Mutt and Jeff" Norway Norwegian United Kingdom Double-Cross System  
Juan Pujol García "Garbo" Spain Spanish[4] United Kingdom Double-Cross System British double agent in German spy service-awarded both an MBE and an Iron Cross
Johann Wenzel Poland Polish
Before 1942

Soviet Union Red Orchestra

After 1942

Nazi Germany Gestapo

Before 1942

Nazi Germany Nazi Germany

After 1942

Soviet Union Soviet Union

Member of Red Orchestra spy ring who, after being unmasked by the Germans, fed false information to the Soviet Union
William Sebold "Tramp" German Empire German
United States U.S. citizen
United States FBI (1939) Nazi Germany Abwehr (1939) Coerced by the Abwehr into becoming a spy, exposed the Duquesne Spy Ring to the FBI.
Cold War
1947 – 1991
Aldrich Ames United States American Soviet Union KGB United States CIA (1957-1993)  
John Cairncross "Liszt" Scotland Scottish Soviet Union MGB
Soviet Union Cambridge Five
United Kingdom MI5 (1941-1944)
United Kingdom GC&CS (1942-1943)
United Kingdom MI6 (1944-1945)
Anthony Blunt "Johnson" England English Soviet Union NKVD
Soviet Union Cambridge Five
United Kingdom MI5  
Guy Burgess "Hicks" England English Soviet Union MGB
Soviet Union Cambridge Five
United Kingdom MI5 (1939-1941)
United Kingdom Foreign Office (1944-1956)
Donald Maclean "Homer" England English Soviet Union MGB
Soviet Union Cambridge Five
United Kingdom MI5
United Kingdom MI6
Kim Philby "Stanley" England English
British Raj Born in India
Soviet Union MGB
Soviet Union Cambridge Five
United Kingdom MI6  
George Blake Netherlands Dutch Soviet Union KGB United Kingdom MI6  
Oleg Gordievsky Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic Russian United Kingdom MI6 (1968-2008) Soviet Union KGB (1963-1985) Abducted in Moscow in 1985; escaped to the United Kingdom two months later.
Matei Pavel Haiducu Romania Romanian France DST (1981) Romania DIE (1975-1982) Defected to France in 1981.
Dmitri Polyakov Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic Ukrainian United States FBI
United States CIA
Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic GRU Executed in 1988.
Robert Hanssen United States American Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic GRU United States FBI Worked for the FBI and sold information to the Soviet Union as a mole.
Oleg Kalugin Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic Russian United States CIA Soviet Union KGB Longtime head of KGB operations in the U.S., provided disinformation regarding American involvement in Prague Spring; and also played a role in the establishment of Yeltsin as post-USSR leader. Sentenced in absentia in 2002 to 15 years imprisonment; the US refuses to extradite him
Oleg Penkovskiy "Hero" Russian Empire Russian United States NSA
United Kingdom MI6
Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic GRU A colonel with GRU informed the U.K. and the U.S. about the Soviet emplacement of missiles in Cuba; executed by the Soviets in 1963.
Stig Bergling Sweden Swedish Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic GRU Sweden SÄPO Among other things, handed over the entire Swedish "FO-code", a top secret list of Sweden's defence establishments, coastal artillery fortifications and mobilization stores. Convicted in 1979 and sentenced to life imprisonment for treason.
Eduardo Sagaro Cuba Cuba Cuba Dirección General de Inteligencia United States CIA A Cuban paediatrician who was recruited by the CIA to report on the health of Fidel Castro, other Cuban leaders, Cuban troops in Angola and health related issues in Cuba including the effect of infectious diseases but in fact during his CIA career he worked for the Cubans. [5]
Arab–Israeli conflict
1948 –
Ashraf Marwan Egypt Egyptian Israel Mossad Egypt Egypt Egyptian businessman and an alleged spy for Israel, or possibly an Egyptian double agent; managed to become celebrated as a hero in each country for his alleged work against the other.
Basque conflict
1959 – 2011
Mikel Lejarza "El Lobo" Basque Country (autonomous community) Basque Spain CESID Basque Country (autonomous community) ETA  
Northern Ireland conflict
1968 – 1998
Denis Donaldson Northern Ireland Northern Irish United Kingdom MI5
Northern Ireland PSNI
Ireland Provisional IRA
Ireland Sinn Féin
Assassinated at his cottage in County Donegal after being exposed by a Northern Ireland newspaper, The Derry Journal.
"Kevin Fulton" Northern Ireland Northern Irish United Kingdom Royal Irish Rangers
United Kingdom Int Corps
Republic of Ireland Provisional IRA
Freddie Scappaticci "Stakeknife" Italy Italian United Kingdom FRU Ireland Provisional IRA
Ireland ISU
Robert Nairac England English
Mauritius born in Mauritius
United Kingdom British Army Ireland Provisional IRA Murdered by the Provisional IRA in County Louth in 1977.
South African espionage in Zimbabwe and the Gukurahundi
1980 – 1987
Matt Calloway Zimbabwe Zimbabwean South Africa NIS Zimbabwe CIO [6]
Philip Conjwayo Zimbabwe Zimbabwean

South Africa South African citizen

South Africa NIS Zimbabwe CIO [7]
Geoffrey Price Zimbabwe Zimbabwean South Africa NIS Zimbabwe CIO [6]
Michael Smith Zimbabwe Zimbabwean

South Africa South African citizen

South Africa NIS Zimbabwe CIO [7]
Kevin Woods Zimbabwe Zimbabwean

South Africa South African citizen

South Africa NIS Zimbabwe CIO [6][7]
Global War on Terrorism
2001 –
"April Fool" United States American United States United States Iraq Iraq Allegedly, an American officer who provided false information to Saddam Hussein
Iyman Faris Pakistan Pakistani
United States U.S. citizen
 al-Qaeda United States FBI  
Chinese espionage in the United States Katrina Leung China Chinese
Taiwan Taiwan citizen
United States U.S. citizen
China MSS United States FBI  

Re-doubled agent

A re-doubled agent is an agent who gets caught as a double agent and is forced to mislead the foreign intelligence service. F.M. Begoum describes the redoubled agent as "one whose duplicity in doubling for another service has been detected by his original sponsor and who has been persuaded to reverse his affections again".[2]

Triple agent

A triple agent is a spy who pretends to be a double agent for one side, while he or she is truthfully a double agent for the other side. Unlike a re-doubled agent, who changes allegiance due to being compromised, a triple agent is usually considered to have always been loyal to their original side. It may also refer to a spy who works for three opposing sides, such that each side thinks the spy works for them alone. The definitions of a double agent, re-doubled agent and triple agent are not easily explained and there is some discourse and overlap in defining them due to the individual complexities of the role.

Events in which double agents played an important role

See also


  1. ^ "Definition of DOUBLE AGENT". Retrieved 21 February 2018.
  2. ^ a b Begoum, F.M. "Observations on the Double Agent". Central Intelligence Agency. Retrieved January 5, 2010.
  3. ^ Witt, Carolinda (November 2017). Double Agent Celery. Barnsley, UK: Pen & Sword Books. ISBN 9781526716149. pp. 182-186
  4. ^ García, Juan Pujol; West, Nigel (2011). "Childhood". Operation Garbo: The Personal Story of the Most Successful Spy of World War II. Biteback Publishing. ISBN 9781849546256.
  5. ^ Becker, Brian (12 December 2016). "How Cuba Penetrated the CIA Ring in Cuba: Spy VS Spy-Hunter". Loud & Clear. Sputnik.
  6. ^ a b c Berkeley, Bill (1989-10-22). "Apartheid's Spies". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2018-10-18.
  7. ^ a b c Dube, Benson (2014-02-21). "Philip Conjwayo dies". Southern Eye. Retrieved 2018-10-22.

External links

Alias (season 2)

The second season of Alias premiered September 29, 2002 on ABC and concluded May 4, 2003 and was released on DVD in region 1 on December 2, 2003. Guest stars in season two include David Carradine, Ethan Hawke, Richard Lewis, Faye Dunaway, Rutger Hauer, Christian Slater, and Danny Trejo. The thirteenth episode of the season, Phase One, aired after Super Bowl XXXVII.

Arthur Owens

Arthur Graham Owens, later known as Arthur Graham White (14 April 1899 – 24 December 1957), was a Welsh double agent for the Allies during the Second World War. He was working for MI5 while appearing to the Abwehr (the German intelligence agency) to be one of their agents. Owens was known to MI5 by the codename SNOW, which was chosen as it is a partial anagram of his last name.

Brian Nelson (Northern Irish loyalist)

For other people named Brian Nelson, see Brian Nelson (disambiguation)Brian Nelson (30 September 1947 – 11 April 2003) was an Ulster loyalist paramilitary during The Troubles in Northern Ireland. He was an intelligence chief of the Ulster Defence Association (U.D.A.), and also a clandestine agent for the British Army during the conflict.

Camp Chapman attack

The Camp Chapman attack was a suicide attack by Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi against the Central Intelligence Agency facility inside Forward Operating Base Chapman on December 30, 2009 . One of the main tasks of the CIA personnel stationed at the base was to provide intelligence supporting drone attacks against Pakistan. Seven American CIA officers and contractors, an officer of Jordan's intelligence service, and an Afghan working for the CIA were killed when al-Balawi detonated a bomb sewn into a vest he was wearing. Six other American CIA officers were wounded. The bombing was the most lethal attack against the CIA in more than 25 years.

Al-Balawi was a Jordanian doctor and jihadist website writer who was detained and interrogated over three days by the Jordanian intelligence service, the General Intelligence Directorate (GID). The GID and the CIA thought they had turned al-Balawi to penetrate al-Qaeda in the Pakistani tribal areas to provide intelligence for high-level targets. Instead, al-Balawi used this trust to gain access to the CIA base in Afghanistan unsearched and perpetrate the attack. Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan and al-Qaeda claimed responsibility, saying they helped al-Balawi with the attack.

Clandestine human intelligence

Clandestine human intelligence is intelligence collected from human sources using clandestine espionage methods. These sources consist of people working in a variety of roles within the intelligence community. Examples include the quintessential spy (known by professionals as an asset or agent), who collects intelligence, couriers and related personnel, who handle an intelligence organization's (ideally) secure communications, and support personnel, such as access agents, who may arrange the contact between the potential spy and the case officer who recruits them. The recruiter and supervising agent may not necessarily be the same individual. Large espionage networks may be composed of multiple levels of spies, support personnel, and supervisors. Espionage networks are typically organized as a cell system, in which each clandestine operator knows only the people in his own cell, perhaps the external case officer, and an emergency method (which may not necessarily involve another person) to contact higher levels if the case officer or cell leader is captured, but has no knowledge of people in other cells. This cellular organization is a form of compartmentalisation, which is an important tactic for controlling access to information, used in order to diminish the risk of discovery of the network or the release of sensitive information.

Espionage is the act of obtaining (typically via covert methods) information which an adversary would not want the entity conducting the espionage to have. Espionage is inherently clandestine, and the legitimate holder of the information may change plans or take other countermeasures once it is known that the information is in unauthorized hands. See the articles such Clandestine HUMINT operational techniques and Clandestine HUMINT asset recruiting for discussions of the "tradecraft" used to collect this information.

HUMINT is in a constant battle with counterintelligence, and the relationship can become very blurry, as one side tries to "turn" agents of the other into reporting to the other side. Recruiters can run false flag operations, where a citizen of country A believes they are providing intelligence to country B, when they are actually providing it to country C.

Unlike other forms of intelligence collection disciplines, espionage usually involves accessing the place where the desired information is stored, or accessing the people who know the information and will divulge it through some kind of subterfuge. There are exceptions to physical meetings, such as the Oslo Report, or the insistence of Robert Hanssen in never meeting the people to whom he was selling information.

This article does not cover military units that penetrate deep between enemy lines, but generally in uniform, to conduct special reconnaissance. Such military units can be on the border of the line, in international law, which defines them as spies, if they conduct information in civilian clothes. In some circumstances, the uniformed personnel may act in support to the actual agents, providing communications, transportation, financial, and other support. Yet another discipline is covert operations, where personnel, uniformed or not, may conduct raids, sabotage, assassinations, propaganda (i.e., Psychological warfare), etc.


Counterintelligence is an activity aimed at protecting an agency's intelligence program against an opposition's intelligence service. It likewise refers to information gathered and activities conducted to counter espionage, other intelligence activities, sabotage, or assassinations conducted for or on behalf of foreign powers, organizations or persons, international terrorist activities, sometimes including personnel, physical, document, or communications security programs.

Counterparts (album)

Counterparts is the fifteenth studio album by Canadian rock band Rush, released October 19, 1993 on Anthem Records. After they finished touring their previous album Roll the Bones (1991) in mid-1992, the band took a break before they started work on a follow-up.

Counterparts reached No. 2 the US, one of their two highest charting albums in the country, and No. 6 in Canada. The first single, "Stick It Out", was No. 1 on the Billboard Album Rock Tracks chart for four weeks. In 1994, the instrumental "Leave That Thing Alone" was nominated for a Grammy Award for Grammy Award for Best Rock Instrumental Performance. Counterparts was remastered in 2004 and reissued in 2013 as part of The Studio Albums 1989–2007 box set.

Double Agent 73

Double Agent 73 is a 1974 exploitation movie directed and produced by Doris Wishman and starring burlesque performer Chesty Morgan.

George Blake

George Blake (born George Behar on 11 November 1922) is a former British spy who worked as a double agent for the Soviet Union. He became a Communist and decided to work for the KGB while a prisoner during the Korean War. Discovered in 1961 and sentenced to 42 years in prison, he escaped from Wormwood Scrubs prison in 1966 and fled to the Soviet Union. He was not one of the Cambridge Five spies, although he associated with Donald Maclean and Kim Philby after reaching the Soviet Union.

Iyman Faris

Iyman Faris (a.k.a. Mohammad Rauf; born June 4, 1969) is a Pakistani American who served for months as a double agent for the FBI before pleading guilty in May 2003 of providing material support to Al Qaeda. A United States citizen since 1999, he had worked as a truck driver and lived in Columbus, Ohio. As of September 2003, Faris is the "only confessed al Qaeda sleeper caught on U.S. soil."Faris was detained in Ohio two weeks after Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was arrested in Pakistan on March 1, 2003. While installed as a double agent for the U.S. government, Faris sent messages to his terrorist commanders by mobile phone and email from an FBI safe house in Virginia. A senior Bush administration official said, "He was sitting in the safe house making calls for us. It was a huge triumph."

James Armistead Lafayette

James Armistead Lafayette (born 1748 or 1760 – died 1830 or 1832) was an enslaved African American who served the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War under the Marquis de Lafayette. As a double agent, he was responsible for reporting the activities of Benedict Arnold – after he had defected to the British – and of Lord Cornwallis during the run-up to the Battle of Yorktown. He fed the British false information while disclosing very accurate and detailed accounts to the Americans.

Kirigakure Saizō

Kirigakure Saizō (霧隠才蔵) was a legendary ninja of the final phase of the Sengoku period of Japan. In the folklore he is one of the Sanada Ten Braves, and next to Sarutobi Sasuke, he is the most recognized of the Ten.

As in the case of Sasuke, Saizō might be a fictional creation of the Meiji-period popular literature, possibly based on Kirigakure Shikaemon. According to the historian Stephen Turnbull and non-fiction writer Joel Levy, there is a historical record of a failed assassination attempt by a ninja called Kirigakure Saizō, sent by the warlord Tokugawa Ieyasu to kill his rival Toyotomi Hideyoshi (Tokichiro Kinoshita). According to another version of this incident, presented by the martial artist and researcher Donn F. Draeger, the "careless ninja" Saizō was captured while only spying on Hideyoshi, which actually saved the life of the warlord because he was about to be killed by a double agent, Yusuke Takiguchi; Saizō's life was then spared on the condition of declaring loyalty to the Toyotomi clan.

Saizō is said to be a master of Iga ninjutsu. Sarutobi Sasuke, a Kōga ninja, is thus often portrayed as Saizō's arch-rival, and after they both converted to Sanada's cause, best friends and partners. The name Kirigakure literally means "Hidden Mist", as such Saizō is often associated with fog and, by extension, illusion magic. In contrast to Sasuke, who is often rendered with an almost feral child appearance, Saizō usually appears as a calm, elegant, mature, handsome and sometimes feminine young man. The martial artist and author Stephen K. Hayes compared the portrayal of Saizō in the Japanese children books to this of another ninja "romantic figure" of the bandit hero Ishikawa Goemon.

List of Joe 90 episodes

This is the list of episodes of the Gerry Anderson television series Joe 90, made for the British production company ITC Entertainment and first broadcast between 1968 and 1969 on ATV Midlands. Episodes are listed in original ATV Midlands broadcast order.

Nathalie Sergueiew

Nathalie "Lily" Sergueiew (1912–1950) was a double agent who worked for MI5 during World War II under the codename "Treasure". She played a significant role in Double-Cross System particularly by deceiving the Germans about the location of the D-Day landings.

OSS 117 – Double Agent

OSS 117 – Double Agent (also known as OSS 117: Murder for Sale or No Roses for OSS 117 (Pas de Roses pour OSS 117) is a 1968 Eurospy film about agent OSS 117, starring John Gavin.

Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell

Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell is a series of award-winning stealth video games, the first of which was released in 2002, and their tie-in novels. The protagonist, Sam Fisher, is a highly trained agent of a fictional black-ops sub-division within the NSA, dubbed "Third Echelon". The player controls Fisher to overcome his adversaries in levels (created using Unreal Engine and emphasising light and darkness as gameplay elements). All the console and PC games in the series were positively received, and the series is commercially successful. The series, along with Assassin's Creed, is considered to be one of Ubisoft's flagship franchises, selling more than 31 million copies as of 2011.

Wulf Schmidt

Wulf Dietrich Christian Schmidt, later known as Harry Williamson (7 December 1911 – 19 October 1992) was a Danish citizen who during the Second World War became a double agent working for Britain against Nazi Germany under the codename Tate. He was part of the Double Cross System, under which all German agents in Britain were controlled by MI5 (British counter-intelligence) and used to deceive Germany. Nigel West singled him out as "one of the seven spies who changed the world."

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.