January 16, 2018
Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Virginia
ALEXANDRIA, Va. – A former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) officer was arrested last night on charges of unlawful retention of national defense information.
Jerry Chun Shing Lee, aka “Zhen Cheng Li”, 53, was arrested after arriving at John F. Kennedy International Airport in Queens, New York. Lee, who is a naturalized United States citizen, currently resides in Hong Kong, China. According to court documents, Lee began working for the CIA as a case officer in 1994, maintained a Top Secret clearance, and signed numerous non-disclosure agreements during his tenure at CIA.
According to court documents, in August 2012, Lee and his family left Hong Kong to return to the United States to live in northern Virginia. While traveling back to the United States, Lee and his family had hotel stays in Hawaii and Virginia. During each of the hotel stays, FBI agents conducted court-authorized searches of Lee’s room and luggage, and found that Lee was in unauthorized possession of materials relating to the national defense. Specifically, agents found two small books containing handwritten notes that contained classified information, including but not limited to, true names and phone numbers of assets and covert CIA employees, operational notes from asset meetings, operational meeting locations and locations of covert facilities.
Lee made his initial appearance this afternoon in the Eastern District of New York. He is charged with unlawful retention of national defense information and faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, if convicted. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Dana J. Boente, Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security and U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Andrew W. Vale, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, made the announcement. Assistant U.S. Attorney Neil Hammerstrom and Deputy Chief Elizabeth Cannon of the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section are prosecuting the case.
A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information is located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 1:18-mj-18.
A criminal complaint contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty in court.
China has been killing CIA informants – now the FBI has caught the mole responsible
According to a Department of Justice release Tuesday, the FBI has captured a mole that they believe had been revealing top secret identities of CIA informants to the Chinese.
“A systematic dismantling”
The New York Times reports that China began killing informants to the CIA in 2012 in what is considered one of the intelligence community’s greatest failures.
After a “mole hunt” to capture who might have been spilling secrets, the FBI arrested a former CIA employee who was caught with top secret information.
Jerry Chun Shing Lee was a naturalized American citizen and had been living in Hong Kong. According to the release by the DOJ, Lee’s hotel room and luggage were searched by the FBI when he visited the United States with his family in 2012.
They discovered “two small books containing handwritten notes that contained classified information, including but not limited to, true names and phone numbers of assets and covert CIA employees, operational notes from asset meetings, operational meeting locations and locations of covert facilities.”
Lee had been employed at the CIA from 1994 to 2007 and had maintained a top secret clearance. Some believe that the Chinese had also gained information by hacking into the CIA’s lines of communication.
What kind of punishment does he face?
Lee was charged with unlawful retention of national defense information and appeared in a courtroom of the Eastern District of New York. He faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.