A former Central Intelligence Agency officer has been arrested amid charges of “unlawfully retaining classified information,” according to The Wall Street Journal.
Reports say U.S. officials with knowledge of the case have indicated that the suspect in question is thought to have assisted the Chinese government in identifying U.S. informants.
As first reported by The New York Times, a former Central Intelligence Officer, 53-year-old Jerry Chung Shing Lee was arrested on Monday, after a long FBI investigation dating back to 2012.
According to The Times, two years prior to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s inquiry, the US began losing informants in China. This begged the question; how were so many American sources being leaked to the Chinese government?
Some officials reportedly believed that the informant may have been inside of the CIA, while others hypothesized that the Chinese government may have hacked the CIA’s communications sources, reports The Times.
Shing was arrested upon arriving at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City.
He was charged with unlawful retention of national defense information at a federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, and is facing a potential decade in prison, according to The Journal.
Reports say Lee was ordered held by a federal judge in Brooklyn.
Lee’s security clearance is said to have been terminated when he left the agency in 2007.
The Times reports that Lee traveled to the US in 2012 to live with family.
It was during that trip that the FBI searched his luggage during hotel stays in Virginia and Hawaii, uncovering 2 books containing handwritten notes of classified information.
Lee was then questioned by FBI agents in 2013 but returned to Hong Kong thereafter.
It appeared that Lee had made notes of the classified cables he had written during his time at the agency. Writing down the names and contact information of both informants and undercover agents alike, according to The Times, citing court documents.
Over 12 CIA informants were reported killed or imprisoned by the Chinese government.
The losses were apparently similar to the impact caused by agents Aldrich Ames and Robert Hanssen, who became Russian spies, according to Fox News.
Fox reports that is unclear whether Lee will be charged in the deaths of informants.
Lee joined the CIA in 1994 as a case officer and served in China during his career. Sources told The Times that he left his position “disgruntled” after enduring a “plateau” in his career.
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