Hongkonger Jerry Chun Shing Lee, a former CIA agent, is charged with spying for China
Lee has been charged with conspiring to gather US defence secrets for a foreign government, with the illicit information said to include the identities of CIA spies
Former CIA officer Jerry Chun Shing Lee, a Hong Kong resident, has been charged with gathering classified information he allegedly intended to pass to the Chinese government, the US Justice Department said on Tuesday.
Lee, 53, was indicted by a federal grand jury in Virginia on one count of conspiracy to gather or deliver national defence information to aid a foreign government and two counts of unlawfully retaining documents related to the national defence.
Lee, who worked for the CIA from 1994 to 2007, was arrested in January at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, after he had flown there from Hong Kong.
In 2010, Lee was approached by two Chinese intelligence officers who offered to pay him for information, the Justice Department said.
FBI agents searched Lee’s hotel rooms in 2012 during trips to Virginia and Hawaii and discovered he had information that included the true names and numbers of spy recruits and covert CIA employees, the department said.
If convicted, Lee faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.
Lee went from being an operative in the world’s top spy agency to investigating counterfeit cigarettes in Hong Kong, sources told the South China Morning Post in January.
He later went on to set up his own company to do similar work, before joining auction house Christie’s. According to a security source with several decades of experience in the sector, Lee worked for Japan Tobacco International after he left the CIA in 2007.