Former CIA officer arrested for leaking top secret information to China
WASHINGTON - Authorities in US have arrested a former officer of Central Investigation Agency (CIA) for allegedly trying to pass top secret information, including details of spying operations and informants, to China.
According to the Justice Department, Jerry Chun Shing Lee, aka Zhen Cheng Li, 53, a former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) officer, was arrested on Monday following charges of unlawful retention of national defense information.
The US spy network was facing failure in recent years when it started losing its informants in China from 2010.
According to an investigation report published by NYT last year, Chinese authorities either killed or jailed 18 to 20 CIA sources from 2010 to 2012 following a massive intelligence breach at the agency.
The investigators of FBI also launched an intense inquiry to trace the loophole. They suspected either Chines government had hacked the secret communication of the agency or there is a mole within the agency who is leaking information to China.
On Tuesday, the former CIA officer was produced before Brooklyn federal court and is being held there while awaiting transfer to Virginia. The judge ordered that Lee should be held in custody without bail.
In a press release issued by the Justice Department, “Lee, who left the CIA in 2007, is a naturalized U.S. citizen and currently residing in Hong Kong, China. According to court documents, Lee began working for the CIA as a case officer in 1994, maintained a Top Secret clearance and signed numerous non-disclosure agreements during his tenure at CIA”.
In August 2012, Lee and his family left Hong Kong to return to the United States to live in northern Virginia. While traveling back to the United States, Lee and his family had hotel stays in Hawaii and Virginia.
During each of the hotel stays, FBI agents conducted court-authorized searches of Lee’s room and luggage, and found that Lee was in unauthorized possession of materials relating to the national defense, it added.
The release further said, “Specifically, agents found two small books containing handwritten notes that contained classified information, including but not limited to, true names and phone numbers of assets and covert CIA employees, operational notes from asset meetings, operational meeting locations and locations of covert facilities”.
Lee could face a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison if convicted. “The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes. If convicted of any offense, the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court after considering the advisory Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.”