- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 20, 2018

China is suspected of sharing stolen information with Russia concerning the secret identities of CIA assets subsequently arrested and executed, current and former U.S. officials told NBC News.

Federal authorities investigating Jerry Chun Shing Lee, a former CIA case officer arrested in New York City last week and charged with retaining classified information, determined that Chinese intelligence subverted the agency’s covert communications system and ascertained the identities of U.S. spies who “disappeared” soon after, NBC News reported Friday.

“A secret FBI–CIA task force investigating the case concluded that the Chinese government penetrated the CIA’s method clandestine communication with its spies, using that knowledge to arrest and execute at least 20 CIA informants,” NBC News reported, citing multiple current and former government officials who spoke on condition of anonymity.

“American officials suspect China then shared that information with Russia, which employed it to expose, arrest and possibly kill American sources in that country,” the report said.

The New York Times reported previously that several CIA sources were killed in recent years, and that authorities investigating their deaths had set their sights on Mr. Lee, a 53-year-old former employee who left the agency in 2007 and had worked in Hong Kong prior to being arrested shortly upon arriving at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport on Monday. NBC’s report, however, marked the first time that U.S. officials connected the suspected turncoat to Russian intelligence, albeit anonymously.

The CIA ultimately changed their system for speaking covertly with spies, and the agency’s top counterintelligence official, Mark Kelton, briefed House and Senate intelligence committees on the damage caused by the compromise, NBC reported.

Neither Mr. Kelton nor the CIA agreed to comment, the report said.

Federal investigators searched Mr. Lee’s hotel rooms while he traveled in 2012 and discovered notebooks containing the names of covert CIA sources, according to court documents.

He was charged with unlawful retention of national defense information in violation of the U.S. Espionage Act, and is pending extradition to Alexandria, Virginia, where he’s expected to face federal charges.

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