Duhaime's Law Dictionary


Spy / Spies Definition:

A person who acts clandestinely or on false pretenses to endeavour to obtain information of or within another state with the intention of communicating or selling it to others.

Related Terms: Espionage

Shumaker defined a spy using these words:

"One who penetrates secretly or in disguise or by false pretenses within military lines for the purpose of obtaining information to be used to the disadvantage of the forces so spied upon."

The Convention (IV) respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land and its annex: Regulations concerning the Laws and Customs of War on Land. The Hague, 18 October 1907:

"Spies

"Art. 29. A person can only be considered a spy when, acting clandestinely or on false pretences, he obtains or endeavours to obtain information in the zone of operations of a belligerent, with the intention of communicating it to the hostile party. Thus, soldiers not wearing a disguise who have penetrated into the zone of operations of the hostile army, for the purpose of obtaining information, are not considered spies. Similarly, the following are not
considered spies: Soldiers and civilians, carrying out their mission openly, entrusted with the delivery of despatches intended either for their own army or for the enemy's army. To this class belong likewise persons sent in balloons for the purpose of carrying despatches and, generally, of maintaining communications between the different parts of an army or a territory.

"Art. 30. A spy taken in the act shall not be punished without previous trial.

"Art. 31. A spy who, after rejoining the army to which he belongs, is subsequently captured by the enemy, is treated as a prisoner of war, and incurs no responsibility for his previous acts of espionage."

 REFERENCES:

  • Shumaker, Walter and Longsdorf, George Foster, The Cyclopedic Dictionary of Law Comprising the Terms and Phrases of American Jurisprudence, Including Ancient and Modern Common Law, International Law, and Numerous Select Titles From the Civil Law, the French and the Spanish Law, Etc., Etc. With an Exhaustive Collection of Legal Maxims, (St. Paul, Minnesota: Keefe-Davidson Law Book Company, 1901), page 867

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