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Espionage is the crime of spying or secretly watching a person, company, government, etc. for the purpose of gathering secret information or detecting wrongdoing, and to transfer such information to another organization or state. The act of industrial espionage is a separate crime in many jurisdictions and is the taking of one company’s secret information to benefit another company. For example: Company A sends undercover workers to Company B to steal Company B’s trade secrets and to use those secrets for their own advancement. 

The United States Code also provides that a person attempting to communicate with any foreign government about the United States’ national defense will be punished by death or by imprisonment under 18 U.S.C. §794

[Last updated in June of 2021 by the Wex Definitions Team]