Sun, Mar 17, 2019 - Page 5 News List

US official to be jailed in Chinese espionage case


A former US Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) official is to be jailed for 15 years after pleading guilty on Friday to charges of attempting to sell classified information to the Chinese, the US Department of Justice said.

Ron Rockwell Hansen, 58, a former DIA operative based in Beijing, was arrested in June last year while preparing to board a flight to China carrying classified information.

Investigators said Hansen, a fluent Mandarin and Russian speaker, had fallen into deep financial trouble from 2013 to 2016 and was paid more than US$800,000 by Chinese intelligence for US secrets.

During that time they found that he had regular meetings with Chinese intelligence agents that he never reported, used cellphones provided him by Chinese sources and retained classified information, to which he was not supposed to have access.

They discovered his work with the Chinese when he in 2016 tried to recruit a fellow intelligence case officer to work with him and the colleague reported the conversation to their superiors.

In a deal with prosecutors, Hansen pleaded guilty to one count of attempting to gather or deliver national defense information to aid a foreign government.

The deal set his sentence at 15 years.

US intelligence has been struggling hard against a Chinese espionage offensive that saw the CIA’s Chinese informant network rolled up by Beijing several years ago and saw several US officials exposed as Chinese spies.

In January last year, former CIA agent Jerry Chun Shing Lee (李春興) was arrested on charges that he sold information to China.

He is reportedly suspected of having provided information that allowed China to bring down the CIA’s network between 2010 and 2012.

Former department official Kevin Mallory was arrested in 2017 for spying for China.

Another US diplomat, Candace Marie Claiborne, was also arrested for taking money from Chinese intelligence officials, although she was not directly accused of supplying information in exchange.

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