The US defines espionage towards itself as “The act of obtaining, delivering, transmitting, communicating, or receiving information about the national defense with an intent, or reason to believe, that the information may be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of any foreign nation. Espionage is a violation of 18 United States Code 792-798 and Article 106, Uniform Code of Military Justice.” (See US DOD Pub)
Most countries consider espionage activities illegal and are not known for their restraint when pursuing and apprehending suspects. In addition to the physical risks a sloppy agent’s mistakes have a habit of showing up on the news and causing issues for their employer. Agents are encouraged to remember that all organizations have protocols for dealing with individuals that become a liability.
Give Them Someone Else
When performing an illegal act provide those who investigate a plausible suspect. Make sure to leave evidence pointing in that direction while also ensuring an alibi that will stand up to initial scrutiny. Make sure that an identities can be easily burned and have no trace back to you. Investigators want to close cases and will generally take the easiest path, but if you do not make it convincing than they will dig deeper and things will unravel. When that happens:
Locate The Exits
When things start to unravel have a plan to burn the current identity and a way out of town, state or country. Be ready to move before photos start showing up on the news and increased security at airports. Know the ways out that do not require identification and visas. No matter how well crafted the plan, how convincing the patsy there will always come a time when it is best to cut and run. A person of interest being sought is better than an agent being perp walked in front of the cameras.
Modern forensics can do amazing things to identify suspects, discard false information and provide clarity for investigators. When this is coupled with the ubiquitous surveillance in many countries and increased computing power finding and confirming suspects takes less and less time. Understanding how forensics are used and what investigators are looking for gives the agent the ability to use potential evidence to their advantage. Making sure that the forensics confirm the patsy or send investigators in the wrong direction while escaping.
Firearms complicate everything. They are a necessary piece of equipment, but when they are used when committing other acts that attract official attention firearms tend to make that attention a lot more focused and intense. In most places carrying a firearm openly or concealed is illegal as is the possession of the types of firearms most useful in the clandestine business. When using firearms make sure to take into account the complications that come with them and the increased difficulty with fingering someone else and getting out of town.
Firearms leave a great deal of evidence when they are used. This evidence will spread over the area where it was used as well as on the clothes of the person. This is very difficult to remove quickly. If empty shells are left behind they will point to the specific weapon used, so either collect them or make sure you dump the correct weapon on the patsy.
The best policy is to avoid the use of firearms whenever possible, but if required then make sure to account for the added variables that they bring.