Agent provocateur

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.

Common usage

An "agent provocateur" is often a police officer who encourages suspects to carry out a crime under 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 Red-baiting).

Historically, "Agents provocateurs" activities have been one operational tactic of labor spies who 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 law jurisdictions, the law of entrapment seeks 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

Within the United States, the COINTELPRO program of the Federal Bureau of Investigation had 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 City Police 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 =
work = The New York Times
page = A1
date = December 22, 2005
accessdate = 2006-09-22


The activities of "agents provocateurs" against dissidents in Imperial Russia was one of the grievances that led to the Russian Revolution of 1917. Yevno Azef is 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 bribe offer, 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 America were 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 YouTube before 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 Québec issued a news release on August 23 admitting that the three protesters were, in fact, police officers. [ [ Quebec police admit they went undercover at Montebello protest ] ] [ [ | News | Police accused of using provocateurs at summit ] ]

See also

* Grant Bristow
* False flag terrorist actions
* Security culture
* Black Bloc


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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Agent\ provocateur — Agent Provocateur …   Deutsche Rechtschreibung Änderungen

  • Agent\ provocateur — Agent Provocateur …   Wörterbuch Veränderungen in der deutschen Rechtschreibung

  • Agent provocateur — Agent pro|vo|ca|teur auch: Agent Pro|vo|ca|teur 〈[aʒã: prɔvokatø:r] m.; , s s〉 = Lockspitzel [frz., „Unruhestifter“ (in fremdem Auftrag)] * * * Agent Pro|vo|ca|teur, Agent pro|vo|ca|teur [a ʒã: provoka tø:ɐ̯] …   Universal-Lexikon

  • Agent Provocateur — Agent pro|vo|ca|teur auch: Agent Pro|vo|ca|teur 〈[aʒã: prɔvokatø:r] m.; , s s〉 = Lockspitzel [frz., „Unruhestifter“ (in fremdem Auftrag)] * * * Agent Pro|vo|ca|teur, Agent pro|vo|ca|teur [a ʒã: provoka tø:ɐ̯] …   Universal-Lexikon

  • Agent Provocateur — (альбом)  пятый альбом хард рок группы Foreigner, выпущенный в 1984 м году. Agent Provocateur (группа)  английская рок группа. Agent Provocateur (одежда)  английский бренд в области нижнего белья …   Википедия

  • Agent provocateur — / Agent provocateur: (Groß und Kleinschreibung) In mehrteiligen, getrennt geschriebenen fremdsprachigen Substantiven richtet sich die Groß und Kleinschreibung nach der Wortart des zweiten Bestandteils. Kann der zweite Teil einer solchen Fügung… …   Lexikalische Deutsches Wörterbuch

  • Agent Provocateur — Agent Pro|vo|ca|teur, auch Agent pro|vo|ca|teur [a ʒã: provoka tø:ɐ̯] der; , s s [a ʒã: provoka tø:ɐ̯] <aus gleichbed. fr. agent provocateur, eigtl. »herausfordernder, provozierender Agent«> Agent (2), der verdächtige Personen zu… …   Das große Fremdwörterbuch

  • agent provocateur — ► NOUN (pl. agents provocateurs pronunc. same) ▪ a person employed to induce suspected offenders to commit criminal acts and thus be convicted. ORIGIN French, provocative agent …   English terms dictionary

  • agent provocateur — [ȧ zhän′ prō̂ vō̂ kȧ tër′] n. pl. agents provocateurs [ȧ zhän′ prō̂ vō̂ kȧ tër′] [Fr] 1. a person hired to join a labor union, political party, etc. in order to incite its members to actions that will make them or their organization liable to …   English World dictionary

  • agent provocateur — I index catalyst II index conspirer Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 …   Law dictionary

  • agent provocateur — [n] instigator agitator, goad, incendiary, rabble rouser, troublemaker; concept 412 …   New thesaurus

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