Ex-CIA agent pleads guilty to spying for China

Washington DC - A former CIA agent pleaded guilty Friday to spying for China, the US Department of Justice announced.

The US Department of Justice announced a former CIA employee had pleaded guilty to spying for China.
The US Department of Justice announced a former CIA employee had pleaded guilty to spying for China.  © IMAGO / NurPhoto

Alexander Yuk Ching Ma (71), a native of Hong Kong who became a naturalized US citizen, admitted to having provided "a large volume of classified US national defense information" to Chinese authorities in 2001, even though he hadn't been employed by the CIA for 12 years.

According to the Justice Department statement, Ma's meeting with representatives of the Shanghai State Security Bureau was initiated by another former CIA agent, Ma's blood relative who was born in Shanghai and who also became a naturalized American, identified in the agency's statement as "co-conspirator #1."

At the end of the third day of the meeting in a Hong Kong hotel, Chinese "intelligence officers provided CC #1 with $50,000 in cash, which Ma counted," the statement said.

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"Ma and CC #1 also agreed at that time to continue to assist" Chinese intelligence.

Admitted Chinese spy faces possible prison sentence

The admitted Chinese spy previously worked for the FBI until 2012.
The admitted Chinese spy previously worked for the FBI until 2012.  © IMAGO / Pond5 Images

In 2003, Ma was hired as a linguist by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Hawaii "as part of an investigative plan, to work at an off-site location where his activities could be monitored" and his contacts with China could be probed.

In 2006, Ma "convinced CC #1 to provide the identities of at least two individuals depicted in photographs that were provided to Ma" by Chinese intelligence.

Ma confessed that the information given as well as what he provided in 2001 "would be used to injure the United States or to benefit" Chinese authorities.

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Ma worked for the FBI until 2012, and it was unclear from the statement how he was unmasked.

If accepted by the courts, the guilty plea agreement, which ensures that Ma would cooperate with US authorities, provides for a 10-year prison sentence for him which could be handed down on September 11.

Cover photo: IMAGO / NurPhoto

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