Former CIA Officer Pleads Guilty to Spying for the Chinese Regime

NTD Newsroom
By NTD Newsroom
May 25, 2024US News
Former CIA Officer Pleads Guilty to Spying for the Chinese Regime
Alexander Ma counting cash given by an undercover FBI officer during a meeting in Aug. 2020. (FBI Affidavit)

A former CIA officer pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to spy for the Chinese regime over a decade in a federal court in Honolulu, the Department of Justice announced on May 24.

Alexander Yuk Ching Ma, a naturalized U.S. citizen, was arrested in 2020 and charged with conspiracy to transfer top-secret information to the Chinese regime’s intelligence officials.

Mr. Ma, who worked for the CIA from 1982 to 1989, conspired with his blood relative, also a former CIA officer, to provide classified U.S. national defense information to the Chinese regime.

During his tenure at the CIA, Mr. Ma held a top-secret clearance and signed multiple non-disclosure agreements, acknowledging his duty to protect U.S. government secrets. After leaving the agency, Ma lived and worked in Shanghai, China, before relocating to Hawaii in 2001.

Notably, his blood relative had access to CIA top secret information, including “the identities of covert CIA officers,” according to a court document.

The document says the two former CIA officers conspired with Chinese intelligence officials to share classified national defense information over a decade.

Prosecutors said the espionage scheme began with three days of meetings in Hong Kong hotel rooms in 2001, where Mr. Ma and his relative met officers of China’s Ministry of State Security (MSS), the regime’s top intelligence agency. During these meetings, the two former CIA officers provided highly classified information on the CIA’s personnel, internal structure, operations, and communication methods. Part of these meetings was videotaped, showing Mr. Ma receiving and counting $50,000 in cash for the secrets they divulged.

The plea deal showed that Mr. Ma sought employment with the FBI, aiming to regain access to classified information for Chinese intelligence. In 2003, he applied for a job as a contract linguist with the FBI’s Honolulu Field Office.

Knowing his ties to Chinese intelligence, the FBI hired Mr. Ma as part of an investigative plan to monitor his activities. From August 2004 to October 2012, he worked as a contract linguist, reviewing and translating Chinese language documents at an off-site location.

Prosecutors said over the next six years, Mr. Ma regularly copied, photographed, and stole classified documents. He took the stolen documents and images with him on frequent trips to China and handed them over to the Chinese handlers. He often returned from these China trips with substantial cash payments and expensive gifts, including new golf clubs.

According to prosecutors, Mr. Ma admitted that he convinced his CIA relative to reveal the identities of at least two individuals in photographs that were given to him by Chinese spies. Mr. Ma confessed that he was aware that the Chinese regime could use this information to harm the United States, but he deliberately did it anyway.

Court documents showed that in 2019, Mr. Ma met with an FBI undercover agent whom he believed to be a Chinese intelligence officer. During these meetings, Mr. Ma confirmed he worked for Chinese intelligence and accepted $2,000 in cash as a “small token” of appreciation for his work for the Chinese regime. He also offered to resume working for Chinese intelligence.

In a final meeting with the FBI undercover agent in Aug. 2020 before his arrest, Mr. Ma again accepted more money for his past spying efforts and expressed his willingness to support the Chinese regime, saying he wanted “the motherland” to succeed.

The plea agreement requires Mr. Ma to cooperate with U.S. authorities, including submitting to debriefings by government agencies. If accepted by the court, he will face a 10-year prison sentence.

Espionage Attempts

The case is one of many espionage attempts by the Chinese regime targeting U.S. military and intelligence personnel. In 2019, former CIA officer Jerry Chun Shing Lee received a 19-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to conspiring to provide classified information to Chinese intelligence following his departure from the agency in 2010.

Earlier this year, a former U.S. Navy sailor was sentenced to 27 months in prison for providing the Chinese communist regime with sensitive U.S. military information in exchange for bribes. In 2021, a former U.S. Navy sailor was also sentenced to 30 months in prison and fined $20,000 for conspiring with her husband to send sensitive military equipment to China illegally.

These cases highlight the Chinese regime’s intelligence efforts in the United States. In 202o, FBI Director Christopher Wray said the agency investigated one new Chinese counterintelligence case every 10 hours. Mr. Wray also noted that the bureau had over 2,000 China-related counterintelligence investigations at the time.

From The Epoch Times

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