United States charges former Central Intelligence Agency agent with conspiring to commit espionage for China

ImageJerry Chun Shing Lee 53 was indicted on Tuesday on a charge of conspiring to commit espionage

Jerry Chun Shing Lee, 53, who worked for the Central Intelligence Agency between 1994 and 2007, was arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation at John F. Kennedy International Airport in NY in January for allegedly illegally carrying classified information that contained "true names and phone numbers of assets and covert Central Intelligence Agency employees, operational notes from asset meetings, operational meeting locations, and locations of covert facilities". He has been held in Alexandria's jail without bond since January.

The information Mr. Lee funneled to China is suspected to have caused the death or imprisonment of roughly 20 American agents, according to February NBC News report. Law enforcement had been trying without success to get him back to the United States from Hong Kong for several years.

Prosecutors allege that in 2010, three years after Lee left his CIA job, two Chinese intelligence officials offered to pay him for information.

"During voluntary interviews with the FBI, Lee admitted preparing the document in response to taskings" from the Chinese intel officers, DOJ said in a Tuesday announcement.

Agents also found a thumb drive on which was stored a document later determined to contain information classified at the Secret level, the indictment says.

During trips Virginia and Hawaii in 2012, Federal Bureau of Investigation agents secretly searched Lee's hotel rooms and found evidence that he was in possession of classified information whose disclosure potentiated "grave damage to the National Security of the United States", according to an Federal Bureau of Investigation affidavit.

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Officials have not said why it took so long to bring charges against Lee, nor detailed what materials he gave to the Chinese agents.

Lee is accused of handing this information to the Chinese, allowing them to unmask "at least a dozen" CIA sources and imprison six more from 2010 to 2012 in what was seen as one of the biggest U.S. intelligence failures in decades.

He later went on to set up his own company to do similar work, before joining auction house Christie's.

"The United States will hold accountable those who conspire to compromise our national security", Tracy Doherty-McCormick, acting US attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, said in a statement.

Lee served in the U.S. Army from 1982 to 1986, according to court records.

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