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Former U.S. Intelligence Officer Charged With Selling Secrets To China

A former Defense Intelligence Agency officer has been charged with attempted espionage for allegedly selling secrets to China.

Ron Rockwell Hansen, a 58-year-old Utah resident, was seized on Saturday on his way to the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, where prosecutors say he meant to board a China-bound flight.

According to The Associated Press, a 41-page felony complaint details how Hansen was paid as much as $800,000 over a period of years to provide technology and secrets to Beijing.

"Several years after he left the U.S. government, he allegedly attended trade conferences on behalf of China and shared information he gathered with officials connected to Chinese intelligence. Charging documents also allege he transferred forensic software worth several thousand dollars, in violation of export controls," the AP writes.

The FBI reportedly began investigating Hansen in 2014 and he allegedly approached FBI informants in 2015 and again in 2016, acknowledging to them that he was being paid to pass information to China, according to the AP.

Reuters reports that he also allegedly sold export-controlled technology.

"His alleged actions are a betrayal of our nation's security and the American people and are an affront to his former intelligence community colleagues," John Demers, the head of the Justice Department's National Security Division, was quoted by Reuters as saying.

Hansen was a DIA case officer while on active military duty from 2000-2006 and held a top-secret clearance for years.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying was quoted by Reuters as saying she had no information on the case.

"But certainly of late there have been some issues between China and the United States," Hua told reporters in Beijing. "We think China and the U.S. are two major countries and both sides should do more things that strengthen cooperation and mutual trust."

Last month, Jerry Chun Shing Lee, a 53-year-old former Central Intelligence Agency officer who is a naturalized U.S. citizen, was charged with conspiracy to commit espionage on behalf of China.

In 2012, the FBI searched his hotel room in Honolulu and discovered notebooks of handwritten notes – including information about U.S. assets in China, according to court documents.

Through his attorney, Lee has denied that he is a Chinese spy.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Scott Neuman is a reporter and editor, working mainly on breaking news for NPR's digital and radio platforms.
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