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Former CIA Officer And FBI Linguist Arrested For Sharing Top Secret Info With Chinese Government

(Photo: SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)

Marlo Safi Culture Reporter
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A former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) officer and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) linguist was arrested after allegedly providing top secret national defense information to the Chinese government for over a decade, the Justice Department reported Monday.

Alexander Yuk Ching Ma, 67, was arrested Friday after meeting with an FBI undercover employee, who he expressed his willingness to continue helping the Chinese government in an effort to see “the motherland” succeed, according to the Justice Department statement.

Ma, a U.S. citizen born in Hong Kong, began working for the CIA in 1982, where he had top secret clearance and pledged to protect U.S. government secrets. He left the CIA in 1989 and lived in Shanghai, China before moving to arriving in Hawaii in 2001. Soon after, the scheme to share classified National Defense information kicked off after three days of meetings in Hong Kong that year, when Ma and his relative, also a former CIA officer, conspired to share the classified information.

The two shared information about the CIA’s personnel, operations, and methods of concealing communications during the meeting, which was partially captured on camera. Ma was allegedly seen on the footage receiving $50,000 in cash for the secrets the two provided.

Am also worked with the FBI as a Chinese language linguist for 6 years, and regularly copied and stole classified documents. Ma allegedly would take the stolen documents with him to China, and would return with thousands of dollars and expensive gifts.

Ma is charged with conspiracy to communicate national defense information to aid a foreign government and faces a maximum penalty of life in prison.

The Department of Justice announced that it would be escalating its efforts to cut off China’s espionage efforts in the United States in April after numerous cases of intellectual property theft and multiple prosecutions of Chinese nationals on related charges.(RELATED: US Ramps Up Crackdown On China’s Spying Efforts During Coronavirus)

Xuehua “Edward” Peng, a naturalized American citizen, was arrested in September 2019 after allegedly making multiple cash drops of up to $20,000 in California hotels in exchange for sensitive documents from an undercover FBI agent.