U.S. accuses defense analyst of selling secrets to China for $800,000 | Top News | SupChina

U.S. accuses defense analyst of selling secrets to China for $800,000

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About a year ago, the New York Times revealed (paywall) that the CIA’s operations in China had been “crippled” by the Chinese government from 2010 to 2012. The Times reported that “more than a dozen” sources had been imprisoned or killed in China, and that one informant was “shot in front of his colleagues in the courtyard of a government building,” to send a message. American officials scrambled to contain the damage, though they disagreed on the cause — was it a hack of the U.S. government’s covert communications system, or a betrayal within the CIA itself?

Since that sensational report, the U.S. government has pinned at least some of the blame on one man, former CIA operative Jerry Chun Shing Lee 李春兴. Lee was arrested in January 2018, and charged in May with “conspiracy to commit espionage and retention of national defense information.”

But the ramped-up effort to root out bad actors in the U.S. intelligence community when it comes to China has not stopped there.

  • On June 2, the Justice Department arrested Ron Rockwell Hansen, a Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) analyst, as the Utah businessman and army vet and fluent Mandarin speaker went to board a connecting flight bound for China, the Guardian reports.
  • Hansen “received not less than $800,000 in funds originating from China” from May 2013 to now, the Justice Department claims in its notice of the arrest.
  • Hansen has 15 charges against him, including “attempting to gather or deliver national defense information to aid a foreign government” and “acting as an unregistered foreign agent for China, bulk cash smuggling, structuring monetary transactions and smuggling goods from the United States.”
  • He also was allegedly attempting to give away the “U.S. position on North and South Korea, as well as its military operations planned against China,” the Guardian says, which would explain the handsome payoffs.
  • This is how Hansen describes himself on LinkedIn: “China expert. My first trip to China was in 1981. Since that time, I have made over 175 trips to China and have lived in China on several occasions. I have an extensive network of Chinese government, business, military, and academic contacts at the national, provincial and local levels.”

Additionally, two U.S. diplomats were arrested in the past year on charges relating to China. Former State Department official Kevin Mallory was found with $16,500 in his luggage last June and accused of selling defense information for a similar amount, and Candace Marie Claiborne was accused by the Justice Department in March of having received “tens of thousands of dollars in gifts and benefits” from Chinese agents in exchange for briefings on internal diplomatic discussions.

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Lucas Niewenhuis

Lucas Niewenhuis is an associate editor at SupChina who helps curate daily news and produce the company's newsletter, app, and website content. Previously, Lucas researched China-Africa relations at the Social Science Research Council and interned at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. He has studied Chinese language and culture in Shanghai and Beijing, and is a graduate of the University of Michigan.