An official from the US Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) on Monday was charged with selling US secrets to China in exchange for at least US$800,000.
The US Department of Justice said Ron Rockwell Hansen, 58, of Syracuse, Utah, was taken into custody on Saturday while on his way to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in Washington state to board a flight to China, carrying classified information.
It was just the latest in a series of arrests of US officials on charges of spying for Beijing.
Hansen, the charges said, was retired from the US Army where he worked in signals intelligence.
Fluent in Mandarin and Russian, he was recruited in 2006 to work for the DIA as a case officer, someone who recruits and manages foreign intelligence assets.
Based out of a commercial office in Beijing, Hansen made contacts with Chinese intelligence, and over several years tried to pitch himself to the DIA and FBI as a double agent who would act ultimately for the US, the indictment said.
Investigators found that he had regular meetings with Chinese intelligence agents that he never reported, used telephones provided him by Chinese sources and retained classified information to which he was not supposed to have access.
They also discovered that Hansen was in deep financial trouble from 2013 to 2016, with debts of several hundred thousand US dollars.
During and after that time, he received more than US$800,000 in payments from China, often cash that he hand-carried to the US, that he could not explain.
By early this year, the FBI learned that Hansen was seeking from US colleagues information on the US position on North and South Korea, as well as its military operations plan against China, to be sold to his Chinese contacts.
“His alleged actions are a betrayal of our nation’s security and the American people, and are an affront to his former intelligence community colleagues,” US Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Demers said.
In January, former CIA agent Jerry Chun Shing Lee (李春興) was arrested on charges that he sold information to China, reportedly providing information on the CIA’s network of informants that was brought down by China between 2010 and 2012.
Former CIA officer Kevin Mallory was arrested last year for spying for China and went on trial last week, while US Department of State employee Candace Marie Claiborne, was arrested last year for taking money from Chinese intelligence officials, though she was not directly accused of supplying information in exchange.
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