Suspected Mole Who Brought Down CIA in China Is Arrested

Jerry Chung Shing Lee was arrested on return to US
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 17, 2018 2:24 AM CST
Updated Jan 17, 2018 6:28 AM CST
The seal of the Central Intelligence Agency at CIA headquarters in Langley, Va.   (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)
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(Newser) – The man blamed for one of America's worst intelligence breaches in decades is back in the US—and it could be a very long time before he is allowed to leave again. Jerry Chung Shing Lee, a former CIA officer accused of giving China information that led to the execution or imprisonment of around 20 agents, was arrested at New York's JFK Airport when he arrived on a flight from Hong Kong Monday, NBC reports. Lee, a 53-year-old naturalized US citizen, worked for the CIA and had a top-secret security clearance between 1994 and 2007, when he moved to Hong Kong, reports the BBC. Intelligence officials believe Lee is responsible for the collapse of CIA operations in China between 2010 and 2012.

When Lee visited the US in 2012, FBI agents searched his hotel rooms in Hawaii and Virginia and found evidence that he was the mole who exposed the spy network, the New York Times reports. According to court documents, the evidence included handwritten notebooks with the "true names and phone numbers of assets and covert CIA employees, as well as the addresses of CIA facilities." Lee has been charged with unlawful retention of national defense information, which has a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. Sources tell NBC he is unlikely to be charged with espionage, which can carry the death penalty, possibly because the government doesn't want to expose more secrets in a trial. It's not clear why Lee, who worked for an auction house, risked returning to the US.

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