Supreme Court to Decide Whether Spies Can Sue for More Money

By Sarah Junk | July 7, 2008 | 8:21 PM EDT

( - The future of two Cold War spies will soon rest with the U.S. Supreme Court.

The court will decide whether the couple, listed only as John and Jane Doe, can sue the CIA for not following through on its promise to provide lifelong financial security in exchange for espionage information.

The couple, former citizens of an Eastern bloc nation, moved to Seattle and received at times up to $27,000 per year as compensation for upholding their end of the bargain. In 1987, the CIA helped the husband, a former high-ranking diplomat, get a job. The CIA stopped providing compensation once the husband's income exceeded $27,000 per year.

According to the couple, after the husband lost his job in 1997, the CIA refused to provide anymore financial assistance, claiming the couple had been adequately compensated for their services.

The U.S. government will argue that the case must be dismissed because courts are not permitted to review claims that the CIA wrongly refused to pay for spy services.

This argument is based on an 1875 Supreme Court ruling that the heirs of William Lloyd could not sue for money promised by President Abraham Lincoln in return for Lloyd's spying on Confederate troops during the Civil War.

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