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Ex-CIA officer charged with spying for China

Ex-CIA officer charged with spying for China

A former Central Intelligence Agency officer has been arrested on charges of conspiring with a relative to spy for China, according to the Department of Justice (DoJ).

In a statement on Monday, the DoJ said that Alexander Yuk Ching Ma, 67, who was arrested on August 14 and has been charged, is accused of divulging classified national defence information to Chinese intelligence officials, reports the BBC.

A naturalised US citizen born in Hong Kong, Ma is due to appear in court today and faces a maximum penalty of life imprisonment if convicted.

According to the Department statement, Ma, who began working for the CIA in 1982, left the agency seven years later and worked in Shanghai before moving to Hawaii in 2001.

Prosecutors accuse Ma and his relative, who also worked for the CIA, of spying for China over the course of a decade in a scheme that began with meetings in Hong Kong in March 2001.

The two are accused of sharing information "about the CIA's personnel, operations, and methods of concealing communications" with the Chinese intelligence service.

In yesterday's statement Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers said: "The trail of Chinese espionage is long and, sadly, strewn with former American intelligence officers who betrayed their colleagues, their country and its liberal democratic values to support an authoritarian communist regime.

"Whether immediately, or many years after they thought they got away with it, we will find these traitors and we will bring them to justice."

This is the latest arrest in a string of cases against former intelligence officers, said the BBC report.

Last November, another former CIA officer, Jerry Chun Shing Lee, was sentenced to 19 years in prison for conspiring to spy for China.

In May 2019, Kevin Mallory, another former CIA agent, was sentenced to 20 years in prison, after being convicted of conspiring to transmit US defence secrets to China..