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DOJ: Former CIA officer pleads guilty to spying for China

By Mike Heuer
A former CIA and FBI employee pleaded guilty in the U.S. District Court of Hawaii Friday to conspiring to provide China with national security information in 2001 and 2006. File Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI
A former CIA and FBI employee pleaded guilty in the U.S. District Court of Hawaii Friday to conspiring to provide China with national security information in 2001 and 2006. File Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI | License Photo

May 25 (UPI) -- Former CIA officer Alexander Yuk Ching Ma pleaded guilty Friday to conspiring to gather and send national defense information to the People's Republic of China.

Ma, 71, of Honolulu, conspired with one of his relatives to provide sensitive information to the Chinese Communist Party, according to the DOJ.

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He and an unnamed relative were paid "tens of thousands of dollars" in 2001 to deliver a large amount of classified U.S. national defense information to Chinese intelligence agents in 2001.

Ma and his relative are naturalized U.S. citizens born in Hong Kong and Shanghai, China, respectively.

Ma worked for the CIA from 1982 until 1989, while his relative worked with the agency from 1967 until 1983, the DOJ said.

Both men held "top secret security clearances that granted them access to sensitive and classified CIA information," and a member of the Shanghai State Security Bureau in March 2001 asked Ma to recruit his relative and meet with the bureau's officers in a Hong Kong hotel room.

The DOJ said that meeting lasted three days, during which Ma and his relative turned over classified defense information in exchange for $50,000.

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Ma in March 2003 applied for a position as a contract linguist in the FBI's Honolulu office, but the agency placed him in an off-site office to monitor his activities and contacts with the PRC as part of an investigation.

Ma continued to work for the FBI from August 2004 until October 2012.

While working for the FBI in February 2006, Ma had his relative identify at least two people appearing in photographs provided to him by the SSSB.

The names of those individuals were and still are classified U.S. national defense information.

In his plea deal, Ma admitted knowing their identities and the information he and his relative provided to the SSSB in March 2001 could harm the United States while benefiting China.

Despite knowing their activities would harm the nation, Ma and his relative deliberately engaged in the espionage, the DOJ said.

Ma's plea deal, if accepted by the U.S. District Court of Hawaii, would sentence him to 10 years in prison. His plea hearing is scheduled for Sept. 11.

The DOJ did not provide information regarding Ma's unnamed relative and any plea deal he might have made.

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