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Officials: Former U.S. intelligence agent tried to sell secrets to China

By Susan McFarland
Officials: Former U.S. intelligence agent tried to sell secrets to China
A former U.S. intelligence officer was charged by the Justice Department Monday of attempting to sell classified information to the Chinese government. File Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI | License Photo

June 5 (UPI) -- A former U.S. intelligence agent has been charged with selling national secrets to China in exchange for $800,000, the Justice Department said in an indictment.

Ron Rockwell Hansen was arrested in Seattle last weekend as he attempted to board a flight to China. He was carrying classified information when he was taken into custody, authorities said.

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Hansen was found with thousands of dollars in cash, documents with locations of U.S. Cyber Command outposts and a passcode-protected thumb drive hidden in a shoe, the indictment says.

The 58-year-old Syracuse, Utah, man retired from the U.S. Army as a warrant officer and has a background in signals and human intelligence.

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Hansen is charged in a 15-count complaint that includes attempting to gather or deliver national defense information to aid a foreign government, acting as an unregistered foreign agent for China, bulk cash smuggling, structuring monetary transactions and smuggling goods from the United States.

Hansen, who speaks fluent Mandarin-Chinese and Russian, was hired by the Defense Intelligence Agency in 2006 as a civilian case officer and held a top-level security clearance for years. Between 2013 and 2017, he regularly traveled to China to share information obtained at U.S. military and intelligence conferences, prosecutors said.

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Investigators said after he stopped working for the U.S. government, Hansen repeatedly attempted to regain access to classified information.

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John Demers, U.S. assistant attorney general for national security, called Hansen's actions "a betrayal of our nation's security and the American people" and "an affront to his former intelligence community colleagues."

"Our intelligence professionals swear an oath to protect our country's most closely held secrets and the National Security Division will continue to relentlessly pursue justice against those who violate this oath," he said in a statement.

U.S. Attorney John Huber said the charges are "very troubling in their description of conduct that runs contrary to how we identify ourselves as Americans."

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Last month, former CIA officer Jerry Chun Shing Lee was indicted by a federal grand jury on one count of conspiracy to gather or deliver national defense information to aid a foreign government and and two counts of unlawfully retaining documents related to the national defense.

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