Alger Hiss (November 11, 1904 – November 15, 1996) was an American lawyer, civil servant, businessman, author and lecturer. He was involved in the establishment of the United Nations both as a U.S. State Department and UN official. Hiss was accused of being a Soviet spy in 1948 and convicted of perjury in connection with this charge in 1950.
On August 3, 1948, Whittaker Chambers, a former Communist Party member, testified under subpoena before the House Committee on Un-American Activities (known as HUAC) that Hiss had secretly been a communist while in federal service, despite the fact that Chambers had previously testified under oath that Hiss had never been a communist. Called before HUAC, Hiss categorically denied the charge. When Chambers repeated his claim in a radio interview, Hiss filed a defamation lawsuit against him.
During the pretrial discovery process, Chambers produced new evidence indicating that he and Hiss had been involved in espionage, which each had denied under oath to HUAC. A federal grand jury indicted Hiss on two counts of perjury; Chambers admitted to the same offense, but as a cooperating government witness he was never charged. Although Hiss's indictment stemmed from the alleged espionage, he could not be tried for that crime because the statute of limitations had expired.