A former Defense Intelligence Agency convicted of spying for China admitted he was partially motivated by his animosity toward President Donald Trump.
Ron Hansen, 59, was arrested last year and charged with espionage, The New York Times reported.
At the time of his arrest, officials noted that Hansen, who left government service in 2006, had been paid more than $800,000 by China since 2013.
Hansen pleaded guilty to the charges on March 15 as part of a plea agreement. He could face 15 years in prison when he is sentenced on Sept. 24, though the charge carries a maximum penalty of life behind bars.
But in an April 10, 2018, intercepted phone call, he revealed more about his motivation. At the time, Hansen was trying to recruit a DIA officer to join him, not knowing that the officer was cooperating with authorities.
“The fact, because I hate Trump,” Hansen said, according to The Washington Free Beacon.
“I know he wants to start a war somewhere. I don’t want you to die for no reason. That’s the only reason we’re having this conversation,” Hansen said.
U.S. Attorney for Utah John W. Huber said the case “illustrates that the People’s Republic of China has made a sophisticated and concerted effort to steal our nation’s secrets.”
“A former United States intelligence officer engaged in a multi-year relationship with Chinese intelligence operatives where he sold them information they wanted. That statement, in and of itself, helps us appreciate the damage that Hansen has caused,” he said. “What should be sacrosanct in our character as Americans is this: we do not betray our nation.”
At the time he was charged, officials said the information Hansen passed to China related to America’s military readiness in Asia, particularly war plans for any possible conflict with China, as well as information on U.S. negotiations with North Korea.
Hansen told the official he was attempting to recruit that China also wanted information on American government officials.
“Hansen intended to provide the information he received to the agents of the Chinese intelligence service with whom he had been meeting, and Hansen knew that the information was to be used to the injury of the United States and to the advantage of a foreign nation,” the complaint against him stated, according to military.com.
Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers called Hansen’s actions “a betrayal of our nation’s security and the American people and are an affront to his former intelligence community colleagues.”
“Our intelligence professionals swear an oath to protect our country’s most closely held secrets and the National Security Division will continue to relentlessly pursue justice against those who violate this oath,” he said, according to a statement from the Justice Department.
At one time, Hansen sought to have the FBI hire him as a double agent, according to the complaint against him.
When Chinese officials were asked about Hansen’s initial arrest, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said she did not have information about his case.
“But certainly of late there have been some issues between China and the United States. We think China and the U.S. are two major countries and both sides should do more things that strengthen cooperation and mutual trust,” she said, according to Reuters.
Despite those comments, U.S. officials have been continually arresting individuals on charges of spying for China, including the former driver for Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California.
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