I'm watching "Spy Game" on Netflix. Apparently Brad Pitt, a spy for the CIA, got arrested for espionage and, upon learning this fact, fellow CIA spy Robert Redford asks his colleagues:
How long does the President have to claim him?
What's this about exactly?
It seems to imply that, unless the state acknowledges that Pitt's character works for the government, that he'll receive harsh treatment as a criminal. In fact, they said "he's being treated as a common criminal".
What confuses me is that the charge of espionage by definition implies that he's a spy working for a foreign (American) governmental agency, doesn't it?
I checked the definition of espionage:
So, Pitt's character is charged with being the agent of a foreign government, but is treated as a non-government ("common") criminal, unless his government confirms that the charge is in fact true by claiming him, in which case he's presumably treated better, as if it's not true?... this doesn't seem to make much sense?