National Security

DOJ Arrests Former CIA Officer for Chinese Espionage

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The Department of Justice on Monday announced the arrest of a former CIA officer on charges of leaking sensitive information to Chinese intelligence officials.

Court documents revealed that Alexander Yuk Ching Ma, who served as a CIA officer during the 1980s on a top-secret clearance basis, allegedly met with Chinese officials in a series of 2001 meetings in Hong Kong, where he agreed to exchange sensitive information about CIA operations for money.

Ma, a naturalized American citizen who lived in Shanghai following his time at the CIA, later joined the FBI in 2004 as a contractor and language specialist. During his time at the FBI, Ma traveled to China and provided classified documents to Chinese officials in exchange for thousands of dollars and expensive gifts.

Ma finally revealed his arrangement in 2019 to an undercover FBI employee, who he believed to be a Chinese intelligence official. Though Ma is yet to be convicted, he appeared Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii and could face life in prison.

"This serious act of espionage is another example in a long string of illicit activities that the ​People's Republic of China is conducting within and against the United States," said Alan E. Kohler Jr., assistant director of the FBI's Counterintelligence Division.  

"Let it be known that anyone who violates a position of trust to betray the United States will face justice, no matter how many years it takes to bring their crimes to light," he added.

Ma's arrest follows a recent Trump administration order to shut down China's Houston consulate, which U.S. officials suspected of harboring Chinese espionage operations.