Spy Chief Sued Over Adviser’s Ties to Chinese Spies

Top DNI staffer had ties to accused Chinese spy group Huawei Technologies

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The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) has been sued by an advocacy group seeking the release of internal documents of a top intelligence adviser who was also working with a controversial Chinese technology company that has been identified as a potential espionage threat.

The advocacy group Judicial Watch announced on Thursday that it had filed a lawsuit seeking the release of records pertaining to senior DNI adviser Theodore Moran, who was serving as an intelligence adviser while also working as a paid consultant to China’s Huawei Technologies, which has been identified by the House Intelligence Committee “as a potential espionage threat.”

Judicial Watch filed its lawsuit over a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request seeking Moran’s internal records.

The group is seeking to determine if and how Moran’s work for DNI conflicted with his paid work for Huawei, which has come under scrutiny for producing phone equipment that congressional investigators believe enabled Chinese spying.

Judicial Watch is seeking to obtain “financial disclosure forms, conflict of interest forms, and expense reports for former ODNI and National Intelligence Council adviser Theodore Moran from January 1, 2007, to the present.”

It also is seeking the release of “all memoranda and reports produced by Theodore Moran in connection with his role as an adviser to ODNI or the National Intelligence Council from January 1, 2007, to the present,” according to a summary of Judicial Watch’s lawsuit.

Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton said the lawsuit is needed to provide transparency on the Obama administration, which has tried to prevent the release of national security materials relating to a wide range of issues, such as the Benghazi attacks.

“Once again, we’ve had to sue the Obama administration to get basic information about a pressing national security issue,” Fitton said in a statement. “We want basic documents to evaluate any conflicts of interest at the heart of our nation’s intelligence establishment—the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.”

Former ODNI official Moran first came under scrutiny after Rep. Frank Wolf (R., Va.) petitioned Intelligence Director James Clapper to warn him that Moran’s ties to Huawei posted a threat and likely comprised his ability to effectively advise the DNI.

Moran, who retired from his posts with both the ODNI and Huawei in December 2013, had a security clearance and served as an adviser to the National Intelligence Council, a group that advises U.S. spy agencies.

Huawei was named in a 2012 House Intelligence Committee report as a company that had close ties to the Chinese government and could use its position to wage “economic and foreign espionage by a foreign nation-state already known to be a major perpetrator of cyber espionage.”

Moran was identified by the Associated Press as the author of a Huawei policy paper arguing that it should not be targeted by the United States based on its ties to the Chinese government.

Moran is said to have lambasted “a policy of discrimination and distortion that discourages valuable inward investment from overseas, while providing a precedent for highly damaging copycat practices in other countries,” according to the report.