Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images
Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Ex-CIA officer accused of spying for China

A former CIA officer is facing charges after authorities said he worked to gather sensitive national security information for China.

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Authorities initially arrested Jerry Chun Shing Lee, 53, in January on suspicion of unlawfully retaining national defense information. He was arrested at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport.

About six years earlier, in August 2012, authorities executed search warrants on hotel rooms used by Lee and his family as they relocated back to the U.S. from Hong Kong, Justice Department officials said. In the rooms, investigators said they found classified information written by hand in a pair of small books.

The notes included the true names of covert CIA employees and the locations of covert facilities, among other classified information, authorities said. A thumb drive containing information classified as Secret was also recovered, officials said.

Authorities believe the information was used by Beijing in its efforts to dismantle American spy operations and to identify informants in China, The New York Times reported.

Lee, who is a naturalized U.S. citizen, worked as a case officer for the CIA from 1994 to 2007. Authorities said he was approached by a pair of Chinese intelligence officers in April 2010 and offered money in exchange for information. Officials allege that Lee worked for the foreign officers, providing them with documents related to America’s national defense, until at least 2011.

“Lee’s alleged actions betrayed the American people and his former colleagues at the CIA,” Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Demers said Tuesday in a statement.

Authorities claim Lee “prepared documents responsive to the taskings (from the Chinese intelligence officers), made numerous unexplained cash deposits and repeatedly lied to the U.S. government during voluntary interviews when asked about travel to China and his actions overseas.”

Lee’s attorney, Edward MacMahon, denied after a court appearance in February that his client spied for China, NPR reported.

“Mr. Lee is not a Chinese spy,” MacMahon said. “He is a loyal American who loves his country.”

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