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The seizure of classified government documents from former president Donald Trump's Florida home included some that constitute potential violations of a law called the Espionage Act.
The headline of Politico used the term:
FBI search warrant shows Trump under investigation for potential obstruction of justice, Espionage Act violations
Espionage is defined as:
: the practice of spying or using spies to obtain information about the plans and activities especially of a foreign government or a competing company
Our large Unabridged dictionary adds further detail to the definition:
especially : such spying by special agents upon people of a foreign country or upon their activities or enterprises (such as war production or scientific advancement in military fields) and the accumulation of information about such people, activities, and enterprises for political or military uses
The Espionage Act was passed in 1917, initially to prevent spying and passing on military secrets to enemies of the United States during World War I.
It also includes specific language about the removal or mishandling of government documents:
"Whoever, being entrusted with or having lawful possession or control of any document, writing, code book, signal book, sketch, photograph, photographic negative, blueprint, plan, map, model, instrument, appliance, note, or information, relating to the national defense, (1) through gross negligence permits the same to be removed from its proper place of custody or delivered to anyone in violation of his trust, or to be lost, stolen, abstracted, or destroyed, or (2) having knowledge that the same has been illegally removed from its proper place of custody or delivered to anyone in violation of its trust, or lost, or stolen, abstracted, or destroyed, and fails to make prompt report of such loss, theft, abstraction, or destruction to his superior officer— Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both."
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