The Justice Department confirmed Jerry Chun Shing Lee, 54, pleaded guilty to the charge after he was approached by two Chinese intelligence officers in 2010. The two men offered to take care of him “for life” in exchange for Lee’s services. He left the CIA in 2007 and moved to Hong Kong. Between 2010 and 2013, hundreds of thousands of dollars were paid into his bank account after he created thumb drives that held secret information about CIA activities as well as the location and time frame of a top secret operation, the Daily Telegraph reports. Handwritten notes were found in his hotel room in Honolulu during a police search that detailed his work as a CIA officer before 2004.
A statement from the Department said: “These notes included, among other things, intelligence provided by CIA assets, true names of assets, operational meeting locations and phone numbers, and information about covert facilities.”
Lee is the third case within a year in which former CIA agents had pleaded guilty of conspiring to pass defence secrets to China.
US Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Demers said in a statement: “Every one of these cases is a tragic betrayal of country and colleagues.”
Lee will be sentenced on August 23 and faces a maximum penalty of life in prison.
The case echoes that of Ron Rockwell Hansen, a former US Defence Intelligence Agency officer, who pleaded guilty of attempting to transmit classified information to China after receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars while acting as an agent for Beijing in March.
In June of last year, another former CIA case officer, Kevin Mallory, was convicted of espionage charges for passing classified documents to China.
The news comes after FBI Director Christopher Wray warning that China posed the biggest threat to the US in terms of espionage.
Meanwhile, Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson was yesterday sensationally sacked by Prime Minister Theresa May after being accused of leaking top secret information about Chinese firm Huawei as part of a shocking spy probe.
He was accused by Mrs May of breaking his vow to keep Government secrets after making an 11-minute call to a journalist from the Daily Telegraph, who ran the story hours later.