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Published On: Thu, Jan 18th, 2018

Former CIA officer Jerry Chun Shing Lee suspected of betraying U.S. agents to China

nsnbc : The 53-year-old former CIA officer Jerry Chun Shing Lee who was arrested in New York after flying in from Hong Kong earlier this week is now suspected of having betrayed the names of 20 United States agents to China.

CIA logo_USAAlready in 2012 Lee was found to be in possession of a top-secret list of names of CIA assets and facilities, NBC News reported. Lee was reportedly lured back to the U.S. at the time with a phony job offer. For unexplained reasons he was never charged.

However, since then, the Chinese authorities reportedly succeeded in killing or arresting more than a dozen sources over two years, in effect crippling CIA operations in the country for several years.

A task force at the Federal Bureau of Investigation began to focus on Lee as a potential suspect. It was unclear how they lured him back to the U.S. this time, but he was detained as he arrived on a Cathay Pacific flight at John F. Kennedy International Airport and was charged with unlawful possession of secrets, based on the 2012 incident.

Lee could possibly face the death penalty if he is found guilty of being “an outright spy” for the Chinese who betrayed U.S. agents. It is also possible that he will get away on less serious charges; A possibility, considering that the United States most probably isn’t to keen to have its own “dirty laundry” linked to U.S. espionage in China hung up to dry in a court.

Investigators had a closer look at Lee again because of a series of “coincidences”.

  • 2010: Information gathered by the US from sources deep inside the Chinese government bureaucracy start to dry up
  • 2011: Informants begin to disappear. It is not clear whether the CIA has been hacked or whether a mole has helped the Chinese to identify agents
  • 2012: FBI begins investigation
  • May 2014: Five Chinese army officers are charged with stealing trade secrets and internal documents from US companies. Later that same month, China says it has been a main target for US spies
  • 2015: CIA withdraws staff from the US embassy in Beijing, fearing data stolen from government computers could expose its agents
  • April 2017: Beijing offers hefty cash rewards for information on foreign spies
  • May 2017: Four former CIA officials tell the New York Times that up to 20 CIA informants were killed or imprisoned by the Chinese between 2010 and 2012
  • June 2017: Former US diplomatic officer Kevin Mallory is arrested and charged with giving top-secret documents to a Chinese agent
  • January 2018: Former CIA officer Jerry Chun Shing Lee is arrested

Jerry Chun Shing Lee worked for the CIA between 1994 and 2007, when he left for Hong Kong. In 2012 the FBI began investigating the disappearance of CIA agents in China. In the two years before, some 20 informants had been killed or jailed – one of the most disastrous failures of US intelligence in recent years.

 

CH/L – nsnbc 18.01.2018

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