The Slatest

Former CIA Agent Pleads Guilty to Spying for China

 CIA headquarters on January 21, 2017 in Langley, Virginia
CIA Headquarters on Jan. 21, 2017 in Langley, Virginia. Pool/Getty Images

A former Central Intelligence Agency officer pleaded guilty Wednesday to spying for China, the latest in a series of high-profile espionage cases involving American intelligence officers working for Chinese intelligence. Jerry Chun Shing Lee submitted his plea as part of an agreement with prosecutors, which will likely means prosecutors will seek a sentence of 17 to 27 years for the 54-year-old, rather than life.

Lee worked for the CIA from 1994 until he resigned in 2007. A naturalized citizen who was born in Hong Kong, Lee returned to Hong Kong after leaving the CIA, where he started a business importing cigarettes with a former police officer who has ties to the Hong Kong intelligence world. Lee’s business partner connected him to Chinese intelligence operatives. After meeting with Chinese intelligence in mainland China, Lee made undisclosed cash deposits totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars into his Hong Kong bank account over the course of three years.

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It was around this time, in 2010, that “the C.I.A.’s informant network in China collapsed,” the New York Times notes. “Intelligence officials have been divided over how the network crumbled. While some believed that the Chinese had hacked the covert system the C.I.A. used to communicate with its foreign sources, others believed that Mr. Lee had given the Chinese at least some of the names.” Lee denied ever actually passing along information to the Chinese; the FBI uncovered two small notebooks that “contained true names and phone numbers of assets and covert CIA employees, as well as the addresses of CIA facilities” all related to China, according to the indictment.

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