How Beijing busted CIA network in China
WASHINGTON - A former CIA officer has been arrested on charges of unlawful retention of national defence information following an intensive investigation after a number of US informants were identified by China.
Jerry Chun Shing Lee, aka Zhen Cheng Li, 53, was arrested on Monday night after arriving at John F Kennedy International Airport in New York, the Department of Justice said.
A naturalised US citizen, Lee is currently residing in Hong Kong. He worked for the CIA between 1994 and 2007.
Lee, who made his initial appearance in the Eastern District of New York, is charged with unlawful retention of national defence information and faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, if convicted.
According to court documents, in August 2012, Lee and his family left Hong Kong to return to the United States to live in northern Virginia.
While travelling back to the United States, Lee and his family had hotel stays in Hawaii and Virginia.
During his hotel stays, FBI agents conducted courtauthorised searches of Lee's room and luggage, and found that Lee was in unauthorised possession of materials relating to the national defence, the Department of Justice 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," the Department of Justice said.
The New York Times said Lee helped China dismantle United States spying operations and identify informants.
"The collapse of the spy network was one of the American government's worst intelligence failures in recent years," the daily said.
According to court papers, Lee's datebook contained handwritten information pertaining to, operational notes from asset meetings, operational meeting locations, operational phone numbers, true names of assets, and covert facilities.
"The CIA classification authority determined that the books contained classified information, up to and including secret information and, in at least one instance," the federal complaint said.