An FBI electronics technician with top security clearance pleaded guilty on Monday to funneling photographs of FBI documents and other sensitive information to China, the AP reports. Prosecutors in Manhattan federal court charged Kun Shan Chun—a naturalized US citizen who goes by "Joey Chun"—with making false statements in connection with his security clearance to cover up his connections to Chinese associates, which included at least one unnamed government official. Chun, 46, threatened American security by acting as an unauthorized foreign agent, US Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement. Because he was an FBI employee, the threat "was all the more serious and the betrayal all the more duplicitous," the prosecutor added. There was no immediate response from the Chinese Embassy in Washington to a request for comment on the case.
Court papers allege that after beginning work for the FBI's Computerized Central Monitoring Facility, Chun cultivated a relationship with Chinese associates seeking technological data and other info. In 2013, Chun downloaded an FBI organizational chart from his FBI computer in NYC and later turned it over to an unnamed Chinese official. About two years later, he "took photographs of documents displayed in a restricted area of the FBI's New York Field Office, which summarized sensitive details regarding multiple surveillance technologies used by the FBI," the papers say. He later used his personal cellphone to send the photos to China, they add. Authorities say Chun was rewarded with cash, free travel, and other favors for himself and his family; he told an undercover investigator that his associates sometimes paid for prostitutes for him, per the court docs. Chun declined to speak to reporters as he left the courthouse after his plea. His defense attorney said in a statement his client "deeply regrets" what he did and "loves the United States and never intended to cause it any harm." (Read more espionage stories.)