CIA talks ‘amorous arts,’ Romeo spies on Valentines Day


By Adam Shaw –

The CIA used Valentine’s Day Wednesday as an opportunity to talk about the “amorous arts” that spymasters used to obtain secrets from their targets, taking over the agency’s Twitter account to talk about Romeos, Juliets and tricks of the trade.

One of the best known seductresses was Mata Hari, a Dutch exotic dancer convicted of spying for the Germans during WWI. She was accused of being a double agent & obtaining intel by seducing prominent French politicians & officers. She was tried, convicted & executed in 1917.

— CIA (@CIA) February 14, 2018

While most think of female temptresses when they hear the term “honey trap,” men too have been used as honey traps to steal secrets. For example, in West Germany during the height of the Cold War.

— CIA (@CIA) February 14, 2018

The Twitter account, normally a sober relation of news, updates and information, took a dip into the saucier side of spycraft as it described not only female seductresses but also East German “Romeo spies,” who engaged in relations with women and convinced them to pass over information in post-war West Germany.

After #WWII many West German women took jobs in business, government, parliament, military, & intel often having access to highly classified secrets. Thus they became targets for East German male spies interested in only one thing: secrets.
These men were nicknamed “Romeo Spies.”

— CIA (@CIA) February 14, 2018

Romeos were trained in espionage, given false identities, & sent to West Germany. Once there, they identified a potential “Juliet” with access to the info they were after. They created a chance encounter, began an affair, & finally asked the women to pass them secrets.

— CIA (@CIA) February 14, 2018

It notes that 40 women were prosecuted in West Germany during the Cold War for espionage, with many falling in love with their “Romeos” who encouraged them to spy.

Romeo spies were warned not marry their assets even if they developed genuine feelings for them (which many of them did) because West German authorities conducted background investigations of anyone seeking marriage to a government employee with access to classified material.

— CIA (@CIA) February 14, 2018

While many women terminated the relationship when asked to spy, others fell in love not with their Romeo, but with the excitement of espionage. Their Romeos were just part of the process.

— CIA (@CIA) February 14, 2018

The tweets in turn linked to a deep dive into the practice — one that makes for interesting reading on one of the more curious instances in post-war espionage.

“They may have been victims of Cupid’s arrow, but they were not entirely innocent,” the article reads. “However, many hearts were broken, including those of several Romeos who truly loved their Juliets. Several couples endured the charade, fell genuinely in love, and went on to marry and start new lives.”


Adam Shaw is a Politics Reporter and occasional Opinion writer for He can be reached here or on Twitter: @AdamShawNY.



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