Ex. CIA Officer Charged with Spying for China

Ma began working for the CIA in 1982, maintained a Top Secret clearance, and signed numerous non-disclosure agreements in which he acknowledged his responsibility and ongoing duty to protect U.S. government secrets during his tenure at CIA. He left the CIA in 1989 and lived and worked in Shanghai, China before arriving in Hawaii in 2001.

GenJC

2020-08-19 3 min read

The Justice Department has arrested and charged a former CIA officer with committing espionage on behalf of the People’s Republic of China, according to a statement released Monday afternoon.

Alexander Yuk Ching Ma, a native of Hong Kong, is alleged to have conspired with a relative – who is also a former CIA officer, identified as “co-conspirator #1” in court documents – to “communicate classified information up to the Top Secret level” to PRC intelligence officials. Ma was arrested last Friday, and according to the indictment, unsealed today:

Ma began working for the CIA in 1982, maintained a Top Secret clearance, and signed numerous non-disclosure agreements in which he acknowledged his responsibility and ongoing duty to protect U.S. government secrets during his tenure at CIA. He left the CIA in 1989 and lived and worked in Shanghai, China before arriving in Hawaii in 2001.

Ma and his relative conspired with each other and multiple PRC intelligence officials to communicate classified national defense information over the course of a decade. The scheme began with three days of meetings in Hong Kong in March 2001 during which the two former CIA officers provided information to the foreign intelligence service about the CIA’s personnel, operations, and methods of concealing communications. Part of the meeting was captured on videotape, including a portion where Ma can be seen receiving and counting $50,000 in cash for the secrets they provided.

After Ma moved to Hawaii, he sought employment with the FBI in order to once again gain access to classified U.S. government information which he could in turn provide to his PRC handlers. In 2004, the FBI’s Honolulu Field Office hired him as a contract linguist tasked with reviewing and translating Chinese language documents.

Over the following six years, Ma regularly copied, photographed and stole documents that displayed U.S. classification markings such as “SECRET.” He took some of the stolen documents and images with him on his frequent trips to China with the intent to provide them to his handlers. He often returned from China with thousands of dollars in cash and expensive gifts, such as a new set of golf clubs.

In the spring of 2019, over the course of two in-person meetings, Ma confirmed his espionage activities to an FBI undercover employee he believed was a representative of the PRC intelligence service, and accepted $2,000 in cash from the FBI undercover as “small token” of appreciation for his assistance to China.

Ma also offered to once again work for the PRC intelligence service. On Aug. 12, 2020, during a meeting with an FBI undercover employee before arrest, he again accepted money for his past espionage activities, expressed his willingness to continue to help the Chinese government, and stated that he wanted “the motherland” to succeed.

Ma’s arrest was announced by Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Demers, who said:

“The trail of Chinese espionage is long and, sadly, strewn with former American intelligence officers who betrayed their colleagues, their country and its liberal democratic values to support an authoritarian communist regime. This betrayal is never worth it. Whether immediately, or many years after they thought they got away with it, we will find these traitors and we will bring them to justice. To the Chinese intelligence services, these individuals are expendable. To us, they are sad but urgent reminders of the need to stay vigilant.”

Demers was joined by U.S. Attorney for the District of Hawaii Kenji Price, Assistant Director of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division Alan Kohler, and Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Honolulu Field Office Eli Miranda. Ma made his initial appearance before a federal judge today, and is charged with conspiracy to communicate national defense information to aid a foreign government, which carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment upon conviction.

Meanwhile, China has unveiled a new 1,000 lb. hybrid missile that effectively works like a cluster bomb. State-run television showed footage of the missile during a recent test, and an on-air military expert explained it is meant to take out Taiwan’s airfields ahead of an invasion of the island.

The “missile,” however, is little more than a guided glide bomb designated as a “dispenser” because it can carry up to 240 submunitions of varying types, depending on the mission requirements. Those submunitions cover an enormous area – the on-air expert said a single missile could effectively take out an entire airfield.

Some of the submunitions could also be mines, which would hamper efforts to quickly repair damage from the original attack. In the meantime, the airfield would be useless to aid in the defense of the island.

Western media reports have been quick to point out that a “dispenser” bomb is just a fancier way of saying “cluster bomb.” Such weapons are banned by the international Convention on Cluster Munitions – but according to the UN, the U.S., China, and Taiwan are not parties to the treaty.
Culled from Trunews