China ex-deputy intelligence chief given life sentence

BEIJING (AP) — China’s former deputy intelligence chief was sentenced Thursday to life in prison for corruption.

Ma Jian has been found guilty of crimes including accepting bribes and insider trading, said a court in the northeastern port city of Dalian. Ma, who previously was the vice minister of the state security bureau, was also ordered to pay more than 50 million yuan ($7.26 million) in penalties.

The court said in a statement online that Ma used his political power to aid the business operations of Guo Wengui, a real estate billionaire wanted by Chinese authorities. The New York-based Guo has published a slew of online videos in which he makes sensational allegations of corruption in the upper echelons of China’s ruling Communist Party.

Guo gained control of a national securities company after Ma sent letters addressed from the state security bureau to threaten and pressure individuals to hand over their shares to Guo. Separately, Ma also obtained insider information about the same company whose shares his relatives later purchased, resulting in profits of more than 49 million yuan ($7.2 million).

Ma is the latest top official to be ensnared in Chinese President Xi Jinping’s banner anti-corruption campaign, which he launched shortly after taking power in 2012. Xi pledged to take down both high-level “tigers” and low-level “flies” in a drive to purge the ruling Communist Party of rampant corruption.

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The initiative has won Xi broad popularity among the general public, but his critics — Guo included — have called the crackdown a convenient way to eliminate political enemies.

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