April 18th, 2012
07:38 PM ET

Sex and espionage: A long and sordid history

By Tim Lister, CNN

Call it the flip-side to torture: using seduction to extract valuable information. It’s as old as the Old Testament – literally. Delilah used deception and seduction to find out the secret of Samson’s strength. His hair was never to be cut. So off she went to tell the Philistines – and his precious braids were shaved as he slept.

The lure of sex has been the stuff of both spy fiction and real-life scandals ever since.

“Let's face it, historically women — and prostitutes in particularly — have been used to infiltrate or get information," Rep. Peter King (R-NY) said Tuesday, referring to the unfolding scandal over the conduct of Secret Service agents in Colombia.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) chimed in: "Who were these women? Could they have been members of groups hostile to the United States? Could they have planted bugs, disabled weapons or in any other (ways) jeopardized security of the president or our country?"

Nothing has been made public to suggest information about President Barack Obama’s visit to Colombia was sought or given during the encounters between Secret Service personnel and the Colombian women they met – either in the Play Club or subsequently at the agents’ hotel.

But whether from conviction or for profit, women – and men – have traded sex for secrets for centuries. The most (in)famous case of the modern era involved Mata Hari, the Dutch-born exotic dancer who took up residence in Paris after a failed marriage. She appeared virtually nude on stage in a jewelled bra and little else – and was soon the talk of the town, becoming the mistress of a wealthy industrialist and involved in many more liaisons, some with military officers.

But she was also – allegedly – a German spy, code-named H-21. There are as many differing accounts of her spying as of her dancing – with some suggesting that she had an arrangement with the German consul in the Hague to pass on information about enemy war plans. British intelligence supposedly got wind of the arrangement and she was arrested in February 1917. Part of the otherwise flimsy evidence against her was secret ink found in her hotel room, which she said was make-up. Protesting her innocence to the end, Mata Hari was executed by firing squad. But her name has since become a byword for the seductress seeking secrets.

The Cold War provided plenty of opportunities for so-called “honey-pot” scandals. A Marine Sergeant – Clayton J. Lonetree – posted at the U.S. embassy in Moscow in the 1980s was convicted of espionage after giving secrets to a 26-year old translator who worked at the embassy. At his trial it emerged that the woman had introduced him to a man she described as "Uncle Sasha," who inevitably was a KGB operative.

Lonetree’s sentence was later reduced when it emerged that some of the secrets he was alleged to have passed on were in fact betrayed by CIA agent Aldrich Ames, And in Lonetree’s defense, the commandant of the Marine Corps said his motivation “was not treason or greed, but rather the lovesick response of a naive, young, immature and lonely troop in a lonely and hostile environment.”

Using sex for secrets goes “both ways.” John Vassall was a British official posted to Moscow in the 1950s as a clerk to the Naval Attache. Plied with alcohol at a party, he was photographed by the KGB in a compromising situation with several men. He was blackmailed – and passed thousands of classified documents to the Russians in the following decade.

A British journalist in Moscow, Jeremy Wolfenden, got into similar trouble in the 1960s. But he told the British embassy that he’d been caught in flagrante, and was asked to become a double agent. The stress of having both MI6 and the KGB breathing down his neck is said to have led to heavy drinking and his premature death at the age of 31. Wolfenden’s short life became the subject of a book by Sebastian Faulks, “The Fatal Englishman.”

The East Germans may have been the best at using the lure of sex to gather intelligence, but in a unique way. The long-time head of the Stasi (East German intelligence service), Markus Wolf, deployed “Romeos” to West Germany and later wrote in his autobiography: “If I go down in espionage history it may well be for perfecting the use of sex in spying.”

In the 1950s, Wolf dispatched an agent called Felix to Bonn, who befriended a woman called Norma employed in the office of the German Chancellor – by waiting at her bus-stop. They even married, and he got to know many of her colleagues. Then one day, she came home and he was gone – pulled back to the East after Wolf got wind of an investigation by West German intelligence services.

Marianne Quoirin, author of “The Spies Who Did It For Love,” tells the story of another West German woman who as a former nun refused to have sex with her “Romeo” until they were married. So the Stasi staged a wedding, providing both priest and mother-in-law. The Stasi would do detailed research on targets, examining their previous relationships and hobbies.

One Stasi agent, Gerhard Beier, worked in West Germany for nearly 20 years before the Berlin Wall came down. "I was fulfilling my patriotic duty, and it wasn't unpleasant," he said later in an interview. Altogether some 40 German women were prosecuted for passing secrets to East German Romeos.

Perhaps the most dramatic case of seduction in recent times involved Israeli nuclear technician Mordechai Vanunu. In 1986 he visited London and provided the Sunday Times with dozens of photographs of Israel’s alleged nuclear weapons program. But Mossad was on his trail and a female agent – Cheryl Ben Tov – befriended him (reportedly bumping into him at a cigarette kiosk in London’s Leicester Square.) She lured him to Rome for a weekend, where he was drugged and spirited to Israel.

Vanunu was convicted of betraying his country's secrets and sentenced to 18 years in prison. Ben Tov later became a realtor in Florida.

Using sex for information or as blackmail doesn’t always work. When Indonesian President Sukarno visited Moscow in the 1960s, the KGB sought to take advantage of his renowned sexual appetite, sending a batch of glamorous young women posing as air hostesses to his hotel. When the Russians later confronted him with a film of the lurid encounter, Sukarno was apparently delighted. Legend has it he even asked for extra copies.

Post by:
Filed under: Spying
soundoff (1,784 Responses)
  1. wesestotte

    top erectile dysfunction doctors in tx http://loratadine-claritin.com#

    June 28, 2021 at 5:33 pm | Reply
  2. pharmaceptica.com

    is erectile dysfunction a disease https://pharmaceptica.com/

    June 28, 2021 at 4:54 pm | Reply
  3. Mercedes Sprinter Van Repair Motorhome

    You should be a part of a contest for one of the greatest sites on the net. I will recommend this website!


    June 28, 2021 at 3:59 pm | Reply
  4. Diesel Sprinter Engine Repair Service

    Hi there, There's no doubt that your site could possibly be having internet browser compatibility issues. When I look at your web site in Safari, it looks fine however, if opening in I.E., it's got some overlapping issues. I just wanted to give you a quick heads up! Apart from that, great blog!


    June 28, 2021 at 2:38 pm | Reply
  5. Sprinter Van Mechanic Shop Near Me


    June 28, 2021 at 1:51 pm | Reply
  6. Chevy Venture Van Repair

    The very next time I read a blog, Hopefully it doesn't disappoint me as much as this one. After all, I know it was my choice to read through, nonetheless I truly believed you would have something interesting to say. All I hear is a bunch of crying about something you could fix if you were not too busy looking for attention.


    June 28, 2021 at 12:39 pm | Reply
  7. RV Repair Places Near Me


    June 28, 2021 at 10:30 am | Reply
  8. RV Repair California

    Oh my goodness! Amazing article dude! Thank you so much, However I am going through difficulties with your RSS. I donít understand why I cannot join it. Is there anyone else having the same RSS problems? Anyone who knows the answer will you kindly respond? Thanks!!


    June 28, 2021 at 8:38 am | Reply
  9. Van Mechanic Shop


    June 28, 2021 at 4:30 am | Reply
  10. หวย

    I want to to thank you for this very good read!!
    I definitely enjoyed every bit of it. I've got you book-marked to check out new stuff you

    June 28, 2021 at 3:38 am | Reply
  11. wesestotte

    erectile treatment http://canadavyagra.com#

    June 27, 2021 at 11:03 pm | Reply
  12. Frieghtliner Sprinter Abs Module Repair


    June 27, 2021 at 7:25 pm | Reply
  13. RV Repair Near Me


    June 27, 2021 at 6:11 pm | Reply
  14. wesestotte

    erectile implants http://viiagrapill.com#

    June 27, 2021 at 3:33 pm | Reply
  15. Sprinter Repair Near Me


    June 27, 2021 at 3:20 pm | Reply
  16. bob and sheri podcast


    June 27, 2021 at 12:20 pm | Reply
  17. podcast apple

    I used to be able to find good info from your blog posts.


    June 27, 2021 at 12:11 pm | Reply
  18. reason podcast


    June 27, 2021 at 11:24 am | Reply
  19. wesestotte

    erectile stimulant http://sildenafilmat.com#

    June 27, 2021 at 7:56 am | Reply
  20. pharmaceptica.com

    difference between chloroquine phosphate and hydroxychloroquine https://www.pharmaceptica.com/

    June 27, 2021 at 7:20 am | Reply
  21. Leadership Connect

    Way cool! Some very valid points! I appreciate you writing this article plus the rest of the site is also very good.


    June 27, 2021 at 5:11 am | Reply
  22. how to record a podcast


    June 27, 2021 at 4:09 am | Reply
  23. National Student Leadership Conference


    June 27, 2021 at 12:58 am | Reply
  24. wesestotte

    erectile creams walmart http://hydrochloroquinetrx.com#

    June 27, 2021 at 12:32 am | Reply
  25. Amazon Christian Leadership Podcast

    Howdy! I could have sworn Iíve visited this blog before but after going through a few of the articles I realized itís new to me. Anyways, Iím certainly pleased I discovered it and Iíll be bookmarking it and checking back regularly!


    June 26, 2021 at 10:28 pm | Reply
  26. red handed podcast


    June 26, 2021 at 9:09 pm | Reply
  27. pharmaceptica.com

    erectile machines https://pharmaceptica.com/

    June 26, 2021 at 9:05 pm | Reply
  28. Cost Leadership Strategy


    June 26, 2021 at 8:57 pm | Reply
  29. sofa king podcast


    June 26, 2021 at 7:09 pm | Reply
  30. https://student.blog.dinus.ac.id/teknologiinformasi/2021/05/22/era-judi-online-Mengubah-slot-menjadi-lebih-modern

    An outstanding share! I've just forwarded this onto a colleague who had been conducting a little research on this.
    And he in fact bought me dinner due to the fact that I stumbled upon it
    for him... lol. So let me reword this.... Thank YOU for the meal!!

    But yeah, thanks for spending time to talk about this topic here
    on your web site.

    June 26, 2021 at 6:44 pm | Reply
  31. Leadership Programs

    I needed to thank you for this wonderful read!! I certainly loved every little bit of it. I have got you book marked to look at new things you postÖ


    June 26, 2021 at 6:08 pm | Reply
  32. wesestotte

    erectile health news http://tadalafilvet.com#

    June 26, 2021 at 4:55 pm | Reply
  33. RV Repair Shop Near My Location


    June 26, 2021 at 1:16 pm | Reply
  34. RV Repair Near My Location

    Everything is very open with a precise explanation of the issues. It was really informative. Your site is very useful. Many thanks for sharing!


    June 26, 2021 at 12:04 pm | Reply
  35. wesestotte

    erectile response http://sildenafildoge.com#

    June 26, 2021 at 9:20 am | Reply
  36. RV Repair Nearby


    June 26, 2021 at 8:37 am | Reply
  37. Karolin Milliken

    Mega Millions drawings are held Tuesday and Friday
    evenings. Occur if some pool members want the per-share quota raised - or low?

    What is situated the event of death of a swimming pool member?

    June 26, 2021 at 6:44 am | Reply
  38. wesestotte

    ace inhibitors erectile dysfunction http://sildenafilsol.com#

    June 26, 2021 at 1:47 am | Reply
  39. Camper Repair Shops Near Me

    Iím amazed, I must say. Rarely do I encounter a blog thatís both educative and entertaining, and let me tell you, you have hit the nail on the head. The problem is something not enough folks are speaking intelligently about. I'm very happy I came across this during my search for something regarding this.


    June 26, 2021 at 12:10 am | Reply
  40. Alicia Brayboy

    How can I add a hit counter to my blogger blog? Detailed instructions would be appreciated. I searched counter on google and i can get this html code but i dont know what to do with it. Thanks!.


    June 26, 2021 at 12:10 am | Reply
  41. RV Fiberglass Repair Near Me


    June 25, 2021 at 11:24 pm | Reply
  42. RV Repair Shops Near Me


    June 25, 2021 at 9:16 pm | Reply
  43. Camper Repair Places Near Me


    June 25, 2021 at 6:55 pm | Reply
  44. RV Repair Near My Location

    Greetings! Very helpful advice within this post! It is the little changes that make the largest changes. Thanks for sharing!


    June 25, 2021 at 6:41 pm | Reply
  45. wesestotte

    erectile solution ratings http://cialisegld.com#

    June 25, 2021 at 6:06 pm | Reply
  46. Daftar Situs Judi Slot Penipu

    Greetings! Very helpful advice in this particular post! It is the little changes that produce the biggest changes.
    Thanks a lot for sharing!

    June 25, 2021 at 5:15 pm | Reply
  47. RV Generator Repair Near Me


    June 25, 2021 at 4:37 pm | Reply
  48. RV Satellite Repair Near Me


    June 25, 2021 at 2:41 pm | Reply
  49. RV Repair Parts Near Me

    Itís difficult to find well-informed people for this subject, but you seem like you know what youíre talking about! Thanks


    June 25, 2021 at 1:44 pm | Reply
  50. RV Repair Orange County California

    I'd like to thank you for the efforts you've put in penning this site. I'm hoping to see the same high-grade content by you later on as well. In fact, your creative writing abilities has inspired me to get my own blog now 😉


    June 25, 2021 at 12:31 pm | Reply
  51. RV Repairs Near Me


    June 25, 2021 at 11:03 am | Reply
  52. wesestotte

    erectile vit e http://cialisegld.com#

    June 25, 2021 at 10:18 am | Reply
  53. RV Repair Around Me

    Great info. Lucky me I ran across your site by accident (stumbleupon). I've book marked it for later!


    June 25, 2021 at 4:42 am | Reply
  54. pharmaceptica.com

    who makes chloroquine phosphate https://pharmaceptica.com/

    June 25, 2021 at 4:36 am | Reply
  55. Sprinter Repair Costa Mesa

    Pretty! This has been an extremely wonderful article. Many thanks for providing this info.


    June 25, 2021 at 4:36 am | Reply
  56. RV Exhaust Repair Near Me

    After I originally commented I appear to have clicked the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and now every time a comment is added I receive four emails with the same comment. There has to be a means you can remove me from that service? Kudos!


    June 25, 2021 at 4:31 am | Reply
  57. RV Repair Shops Near My Location


    June 25, 2021 at 2:51 am | Reply
  58. wesestotte

    erectile problems and solutions http://canadasildenafill.com#

    June 25, 2021 at 2:35 am | Reply
  59. pharmaceptica

    chroloquine https://pharmaceptica.com/

    June 25, 2021 at 12:49 am | Reply
  60. RV Repair Shops Near My Location

    Aw, this was a really good post. Taking the time and actual effort to produce a really good articleÖ but what can I sayÖ I put things off a whole lot and don't manage to get nearly anything done.


    June 24, 2021 at 11:23 pm | Reply
  61. RV Repair Shops Near My Location

    Good article. I definitely appreciate this website. Continue the good work!


    June 24, 2021 at 10:08 pm | Reply
  62. RV Repairs Nearby

    Way cool! Some very valid points! I appreciate you writing this write-up plus the rest of the website is also very good.


    June 24, 2021 at 8:31 pm | Reply
  63. RV Water Repair Man Near Me


    June 24, 2021 at 8:29 pm | Reply
  64. RV Repair Near My Location


    June 24, 2021 at 7:05 pm | Reply
  65. rv ac repair near me

    Good info. Lucky me I came across your site by accident (stumbleupon). I've saved it for later!


    June 24, 2021 at 6:52 pm | Reply
  66. Johnie Serena

    Once you've got the members of the pool lined up,
    go with a name for your targeted group. Think about how many
    persons all perform the same business. Congratulations
    towards newest Powerball winners!

    June 24, 2021 at 6:31 pm | Reply
  67. wesestotte

    erectile medications http://tadalistatadalafil.com#

    June 24, 2021 at 6:25 pm | Reply
  68. RV Repair Santa Ana


    June 24, 2021 at 5:01 pm | Reply
  69. RV Windshield Repair Near Me


    June 24, 2021 at 1:59 pm | Reply
  70. does rv insurance cover roof leaks

    Right here is the right website for anyone who wishes to understand this topic. You realize so much its almost tough to argue with you (not that I really would want toÖHaHa). You certainly put a new spin on a subject that's been discussed for years. Great stuff, just wonderful!

    https://sgndrp.live/click?redirect=ocrvcenter.com/&dID=1596140732963&linkName=COVID-19 learning loss, including up to 50 for math

    June 24, 2021 at 1:15 pm | Reply
  71. RV Repair Places Near Me

    This web site definitely has all of the information and facts I wanted concerning this subject and didnít know who to ask.


    June 24, 2021 at 11:20 am | Reply
  72. Local Marketing Firms

    Excellent site you have here.. Itís hard to find good quality writing like yours these days. I truly appreciate individuals like you! Take care!!


    June 24, 2021 at 10:57 am | Reply
  73. wesestotte

    online doctor erectile dysfunction http://tadalafilusdc.com#

    June 24, 2021 at 10:36 am | Reply
  74. หวย

    Amazing! This blog looks just like my old one! It's on a completely different topic but it
    has pretty much the same layout and design. Great choice of colors!

    June 24, 2021 at 9:21 am | Reply
  75. Content Marketing Consultants

    When I initially left a comment I appear to have clicked the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and from now on whenever a comment is added I receive four emails with the same comment. Perhaps there is an easy method you can remove me from that service? Thanks!


    June 24, 2021 at 9:14 am | Reply
  76. Video Marketing Agencies


    June 24, 2021 at 8:58 am | Reply
  77. att near me


    June 24, 2021 at 7:48 am | Reply
  78. Digital Marketing Firms

    Way cool! Some extremely valid points! I appreciate you writing this post plus the rest of the site is very good.


    June 24, 2021 at 7:13 am | Reply
  79. RV Plumbing Repair Near Me


    June 24, 2021 at 7:05 am | Reply
  80. wesestotte

    erectile exercises video http://cialisuni.com#

    June 24, 2021 at 2:42 am | Reply
  81. Content Marketing Company

    Aw, this was a really nice post. Taking the time and actual effort to create a top notch articleÖ but what can I sayÖ I hesitate a whole lot and never manage to get anything done.


    June 24, 2021 at 2:12 am | Reply
  82. car washes near me

    Hi, I do believe this is an excellent website. I stumbledupon it 😉 I may come back yet again since I book marked it. Money and freedom is the greatest way to change, may you be rich and continue to help others.


    June 23, 2021 at 10:54 pm | Reply
  83. Local Marketing Experts


    June 23, 2021 at 9:49 pm | Reply
  84. wesestotte

    erectile stimulus http://cialisetce.com#

    June 23, 2021 at 7:10 pm | Reply
  85. house for rent near me


    June 23, 2021 at 6:59 pm | Reply
  86. RV Camper Repair Near Me

    I like reading a post that will make people think. Also, many thanks for allowing me to comment!


    June 23, 2021 at 5:19 pm | Reply
  87. RV Electrical Repair Near Me


    June 23, 2021 at 5:14 pm | Reply
  88. in n out near me

    You ought to be a part of a contest for one of the highest quality sites online. I am going to highly recommend this site!


    June 23, 2021 at 5:11 pm | Reply
  89. RV Service Repair Near Me

    I absolutely love your site.. Pleasant colors & theme. Did you create this site yourself? Please reply back as Iím attempting to create my own site and would love to learn where you got this from or what the theme is named. Thanks!


    June 23, 2021 at 2:07 pm | Reply
  90. Video Marketing Services

    A fascinating discussion is definitely worth comment. I think that you need to write more on this subject, it might not be a taboo matter but generally people don't speak about these issues. To the next! Kind regards!!


    June 23, 2021 at 1:41 pm | Reply
  91. SEO Marketing Consultant


    June 23, 2021 at 1:34 pm | Reply
  92. RV Refrigerator Repair Near Me

    I really love your site.. Very nice colors & theme. Did you make this amazing site yourself? Please reply back as Iím wanting to create my very own blog and want to find out where you got this from or just what the theme is named. Thanks!


    June 23, 2021 at 12:21 pm | Reply
  93. wesestotte

    erectile doctor memphis tn http://sildenafilegld.com#

    June 23, 2021 at 11:33 am | Reply
  94. RV Plumbing Repair Near Me

    I want to to thank you for this excellent read!! I definitely enjoyed every little bit of it. I have got you book marked to look at new stuff you postÖ


    June 23, 2021 at 8:27 am | Reply
  95. www.pharmaceptica.com

    tadalafil vs vardenafil https://pharmaceptica.com/

    June 23, 2021 at 7:07 am | Reply
  96. RV Parts And Repair Near Me


    June 23, 2021 at 5:54 am | Reply
  97. RV Repair Services Near Me


    June 23, 2021 at 3:37 am | Reply
  98. wesestotte

    erectile jelly loonee erectile desensitization
    erectile dysfunction when trying to conceive Theotte erectile pills china
    reviews of erectile dysfunction treatment Bribly erectile function scale

    June 23, 2021 at 3:28 am | Reply
  99. Internet Marketing Service Near Me


    June 23, 2021 at 3:07 am | Reply
  100. pharmaceptica.com

    sildenafil online without prescription https://pharmaceptica.com/

    June 23, 2021 at 1:08 am | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18

Leave a Reply to Stanley Maxwell


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.