Thu, Feb 08, 2018 - Page 7 News List

Lawyer denies former CIA official is a Chinese spy

ACCUSED:Jerry Chun Shing Lee is not a Chinese spy, but a loyal American who loves his country, attorney Edward MacMahon said after a hearing that lasted only a few minutes

AP, ALEXANDRIA, Virginia

The lawyer for a former CIA officer accused of illegally retaining classified records is defending his client against accusations he was a Chinese spy.

Jerry Chun Shing Lee (李春興), 53, a resident of Hong Kong, on Tuesday made an initial appearance in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, after his arrest last month at New York’s JFK International Airport.

“Mr Lee is not a Chinese spy,” his lawyer, Edward MacMahon, said after Tuesday’s brief court hearing.

“He’s a loyal American who loves his country” and served in the military and CIA, MacMahon said.

Lee is charged with illegally retaining classified documents, including names and numbers of covert CIA employees and locations of covert facilities.

However, some news reports, citing anonymous sources, have suggested Lee’s actions went much deeper and that he was a mole responsible for exposing a network of US assets working in China.

Asked about the reports, MacMahon said: “You’d have to ask the people who make those claims and then don’t put their names behind them.”

Court records show Lee had been under investigation for more than five years.

He served in the CIA from 1994 to 2007 as a case officer. He worked in a variety of overseas offices and was trained in surveillance detection, recruiting and handling assets and handling classified material, among other duties.

A court affidavit stated that in 2012, after Lee had left the CIA, he traveled from Hong Kong with his family to northern Virginia, where he lived from 2012 to 2013.

When he flew to Virginia, the FBI obtained a warrant to search Lee’s luggage and hotel room.

Agents found two small books with handwritten notes containing names and numbers of covert CIA employees and locations of covert facilities, according to the affidavit.

At Tuesday’s hearing, which lasted only a few minutes, a judge ordered Lee will remain jailed pending a preliminary hearing scheduled for March 19.

The preliminary hearing was delayed at MacMahon’s request, who said he needs time to review classified evidence in the case.

MacMahon said he might seek to have Lee released pending trial once he can find an appropriate living situation in the US for his client.

Prosecutor Neil Hammerstrom said Lee faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.

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