- Agent provocateur
Traditionally, an "agent provocateur" (
plural: "agents provocateurs", French for "inciting agent") is a person employed by the police or other law enforcement body to act undercover and entice or provoke another person to commit an illegal act. More generally, the term may refer to a person or group who provokes another to perform a wrong or rash action, the deliberate purpose being to incite wider conflict or harm.
An "agent provocateur" is often a
policeofficer who encourages suspects to carry out a crimeunder conditions where evidence can be obtained; or who suggests the commission of a crime to another, in hopes he will go along with the suggestion, so he may be convicted of the crime. These are sometimes called " sting operations".
One common use of "Agents provocateurs" is to investigate consensual or "victimless" crimes; since each participant in such crimes are willing participants, it is often difficult for the authorities to discover such crimes without the use of undercover agents.
"Agents provocateurs" are also used against political opponents. Here, it has been documented that "provocateurs" deliberately carry out or seek to incite counter-productive or ineffective acts, in order to foster public disdain for the group and provide a pretext for aggression against the group; and to worsen the punishments its members are liable for (see
Historically, "Agents provocateurs" activities have been one operational tactic of
labor spieswho may also be hired to infiltrate, monitor, disrupt, or subvert union activities.
The activities of "agents provocateurs" pose a number of ethical and legal issues. Within
common lawjurisdictions, the law of entrapmentseeks to discern whether the "provocateur's" target intended to commit the crime he participated in with the "provocateur", or whether the suggestion to commit the crime began with the "provocateur". It is also debatable whether the institutionalized deception that the use of "agents provocateurs" implies is in fact more harmful to the social order than the various consensual offenses typically investigated by "provocateurs".
United States, the COINTELPROprogram of the Federal Bureau of Investigationhad FBI agents posing as political radicals in order to disrupt the activities of radical political groups in the U.S., such as the Black Panthers, Ku Klux Klan, and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. New York CityPolice officers have been accused of acting as agents provocateurs during protests against the 2004 Republican National Convention in New York City.cite news
first = Jim
last = Dwyer
title = New York Police Covertly Join In at Protest Rallies
url = http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F60F14F83F540C718EDDAB0994DD404482
work = The New York Times
page = A1
date = December 22, 2005
accessdate = 2006-09-22]
The activities of "agents provocateurs" against dissidents in
Imperial Russiawas one of the grievances that led to the Russian Revolution of 1917. Yevno Azefis an example of agent provocateur.
In various European countries, "Agent Provocateur" is an official legal term for a person who approaches other people with a
bribeoffer, with consent of the police. It has proved fairly effective in combating corruption especially in former Eastern Bloc European countries. fact|date=March 2008
Three protesters in Montebello, Canada during the
Security and Prosperity Partnership of North Americawere accused of being police provocateurs on August 20, 2007, by Dave Coles, president of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada. The entire incident was filmed and posted on YouTubebefore being picked up by mainstream media. The video shows three masked men, one of whom was armed with a large rock, being confronted by peaceful protesters. One of the masked men spoke to police officers, and then all three pretended to breach the police line and were 'arrested.' Photographs revealed that their boot-tread matched that of the arresting officers. Although they at first denied that the individuals in question were agents provocateurs, the Sûreté du Québecissued a news release on August 23 admitting that the three protesters were, in fact, police officers. [ [http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/2007/08/23/police-montebello.html Quebec police admit they went undercover at Montebello protest ] ] [ [http://www.thestar.com/News/article/248608 TheStar.com | News | Police accused of using provocateurs at summit ] ]
False flagterrorist actions
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