William “Sebold, a German native born in 1899, served in his nation’s army during World War I then lived in the United States and South America before becoming a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1936. Three years later, during a visit to his homeland, Sebold was recruited to spy on the United States for Germany. The Nazis, who had learned he once worked briefly at an airplane factory in California, threatened him if he failed to cooperate. Sebold secretly went to the American consulate in Cologne and reported what had happened. Back in the United States in February 1940, the FBI convinced Sebold to become the agency’s first counterspy, or double agent. The FBI constructed a shortwave radio station on New York’s Long Island, where agents impersonating Sebold exchanged hundreds of messages with the Nazis. The FBI also helped Sebold set up a specially rigged office in Manhattan, where agents clandestinely filmed him meeting with German spies, including Frederick Duquesne, head of a Nazi espionage network in America.
In June 1941, as a result of Sebold’s work, the FBI arrested 33 people accused of spying for the Nazis. All 33 members of what became known as the Duquesne Spy Ring were convicted that December, shortly after Germany declared war against the United States. By then, Sebold and his wife had entered a witness protection program. He died in California in 1970.”
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