Ex-CIA man accused of conspiring with China set for plea

FALLS CHURCH, Va. (AP) — A former CIA officer charged with conspiring to deliver secrets to China is scheduled to enter a plea.

Court records show Jerry Chun Shing Lee, 54, a resident of Hong Kong and naturalized U.S. citizen, is scheduled for a change-of-plea hearing Wednesday afternoon in federal court in Alexandria.

Lee pleaded not guilty last year to charges of conspiring to deliver defense information to a foreign government. The indictment alleges that Lee met in 2010 in Shenzhen, China, with Chinese intelligence officers who promised to take care of him for life financially if he cooperated. They also promised an immediate cash gift of $100,000.

After that meeting, according to the indictment, Lee’s Chinese contacts delivered more than 20 envelopes between 2010 and 2011 spelling out specific tasks they wanted him to perform, most of which asked him to reveal sensitive information.

The indictment states that Lee traveled to China in July 2012. The next month, on a trip from Hong Kong to the U.S., the indictment says he was carrying top secret information in his luggage, including the real names of CIA assets.

Court records show that Lee was under investigation for more than five years leading up to his arrest in January 2018. Since then, the case has proceeded largely in secrecy with closed hearings and sealed court motions pertaining to classified information. A trial that had been scheduled to begin Tuesday was wiped off the docket last week, an indication that a plea deal might be in the works.

Lee served in the CIA from 1994 through 2007. During his time there, he served as an overseas case officer. According to the indictment his primary duty as a case officer was to “recruit clandestine human intelligence sources.”

Court documents give no indication as to exactly what charges Lee might enter a plea to. Lee’s lawyer declined comment Tuesday until the plea is formally entered at Wednesday’s hearing.

Lee’s plea comes as another ex-CIA officer is awaiting sentencing after being convicted of spying for China. Kevin Mallory of Leesburg, Virginia, was convicted of providing top secret information to Chinese handlers in exchange for $25,000. Prosecutors are seeking a life sentence for Mallory, while defense lawyers are requesting a term of no longer than 10 years.

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