The South China Morning Post is reporting that a Hong Kong resident and former US intelligence officer has changed his plea to guilty on Wednesday to charges of conspiring to deliver top secret national defence information to China and unlawful retention of classified information.
Jerry Chun Shing Lee was expected to go to trial in federal court this week in Alexandria, Virginia, but a hearing to change his plea was held before US District Judge T.S. Ellis III, who could sentence Lee to a maximum penalty of life in prison.
Lee is one of three former intelligence operatives accused of spying for China in the past two years.
Former CIA and Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) officer Kevin Mallory was found guilty at a trial last year and will be sentenced in May. Former DIA officer Ron Hansen pleaded guilty in March and is serving a 15-year prison sentence.
Lee, worked for the CIA between 1994 and 2007, and was contacted by the Chinese intelligence agents in 2010. They offered him money, promising to take care of him “for life” in exchange for the required secret information. Hundreds of thousands of dollars were deposited in his Hong Kong bank account between May 2010 and December 2013.
Prosecutors say the naturalised US citizen created a document containing information about CIA activities, including locations to which US agents would be assigned.
This led China to bring down a network of informants between 2010 and 2012.
About 20 informants were killed or jailed during that period – one of the most disastrous failures of US intelligence in recent years.
The US Assistant Attorney General for National Security, John Demers, said “Every one of these cases is a tragic betrayal of country and colleagues.”
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Contributed by Sean Walton of The Daily Sheeple.