RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. — The business of spying has been big since man’s earliest days, and the role of female agents has been quite serious. What’s called “sexspionage” will be the focus of the sixth Raleigh Spy Conference.

One of the world’s foremost experts on the subject – former British Parliament member Nigel West – will be in the capital city to deliver the keynote address. The conference, put on by Bernie Reeves, who also is editor and publisher of Raleigh Metro Magazine, also is bringing in several other international experts, some of whom played active roles in tracking down female agents.

“Sexspionage: Famous Women Spies and the Ancient Art of Seduction” is the title for the event. I have covered all of the Raleigh events as a writer and contributor to Metro. These events are fascinating, giving attendees a chance to meet and learn about espionage from some of the world’s leaders in the dark ops of covert action from the Cold War through today’s war on terror.

“As the flood of newly declassified documents over the past 15 years attests, female operatives were responsible for many of the most daring intelligent operations of the modern era – while others played a notorious role working against the U.S.,” Reeves wrote recently. “And the role of sex in spy adventures has taken center stage though the ages.”

Reeves recently discussed the conference with WRAL’s David Crabtree for the “Headline Saturday” program.

West is the author of “The Historical Dictionary of Sexspionage” and has spent decades unraveling secrets about the Cold War as well as Britain’s secretive spy agencies. He’s one of the most widely respected and published authors in the espionage genre. In fact, The Observer of London has called him “The Experts’ Expert.”

Among the other speakers this year are former FBI Special Agent I.C. Smith, whose investigation led to the capture of Chinese female spy Katrina Leung, and Ron Olive, who helped crack the Jonathan Pollard spy case and the role of Pollard’s wife.

Leung, known as the “Parlor Maid”, seduced two FBI case agents and compromised them during a 20-year operation.

Olive, who is a retired special agent from the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, wrote “Capturing Jonathan Pollard: How One of the Most Notorious Spies in American History was Brought to Justice.”

Also speaking will be Brian Kelley, a retired CIA operations officer. He will offer up videotaped jailhouse interviews of convicted spies and wives as well as a former Soviet citizen who managed to seduce an FBI agent.