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Former CIA official gets 20 years' imprisonment for spying for China

PTI | Washington DC | Updated: 18-05-2019 08:15 IST | Created: 18-05-2019 07:45 IST
Former CIA official gets 20 years' imprisonment for spying for China
Image Credit: Pixabay

A former official of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) was Friday sentenced to 20 years of imprisonment on charges of spying for China. The former official, Kevin Mallory, was convicted under the Espionage Act for selling classified US "defence information" to a Chinese intelligence agent for USD 25,000.

"Former US Intelligence officer Mallory will spend the next 20 years of his life in prison for conspiring to pass national defence information to a Chinese intelligence officer," Assistant Attorney General John Demers said. This case is one in an alarming trend of former US intelligence officers being targeted by China and betraying their country and colleagues, he said.

"This sentence, together with the recent guilty pleas of Ron Hansen in Utah and Jerry Lee in Virginia, deliver the stern message that our former intelligence officers have no business partnering with the Chinese or any other adversarial foreign intelligence service," Demers said. Mallory, 62, was found guilty by a federal jury in June 2018 of conspiracy to deliver, attempted delivery, delivery of national defence information to aid a foreign government and making material false statements.

According to court records and evidence presented at trial, in March and April 2017, Mallory travelled to Shanghai to meet with an individual, Michael Yang, who held himself out as a People's Republic of China think tank employee, but whom Mallory assessed to be a Chinese intelligence officer. Mallory, a US citizen who speaks fluent Mandarin Chinese, consented to an FBI review of a covert communications (covcom) device he had been given by Yang to facilitate covert communications between the two.

Analysis of the device revealed a number of communications in which Mallory and Michael talked about classified information that Mallory could sell to the PRC's intelligence service. FBI analysts were able to determine that Mallory had completed all of the steps necessary to securely transmit at least five classified US government documents via the covcom device, one of which contained unique identifiers for human sources who had helped the United States government.

At least two of the documents were successfully transmitted, and Mallory and Michael communicated about those two documents on the covcom device. Evidence presented at trial included surveillance video from a FedEx store in Leesburg where Mallory could be seen scanning documents classified at the Secret and Top Secret level onto a micro SD card.

Though Mallory paid to have the paper copies of the eight documents shredded, FBI agents found a carefully concealed SD card containing those documents during a search of Mallory's home, the day of his June 22, 2017 arrest. A recording was played at trial from June 24, 2017, where Mallory could be heard on a call from the jail asking his family to search for the hidden SD card.

Mallory has held numerous positions with various government agencies and several defence contractors, including working as a covert case officer for the CIA and an intelligence officer for the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). As required for his various government positions, Mallory obtained a Top Secret security clearance, which was active during various assignments during his career.

Mallory's security clearance was terminated in October 2012 when he left government service. "Mallory not only put our country at great risk, but he endangered the lives of specific human assets who put their own safety at risk for our national defence," US Attorney Zachary Terwilliger said.


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