WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A federal jury on Friday convicted a former CIA case officer on espionage charges for passing classified documents to China, the U.S. Justice Department said.
The jury in Virginia found Kevin Mallory, 61, guilty of delivery of defence information to aid a foreign government and other charges, and he faces a maximum penalty of life in prison when sentenced on Sept. 21, the department said in a statement.
A U.S. official familiar with the case said it was a serious security breach that highlighted aggressive efforts by Chinese intelligence to gather sensitive American secrets.
Officials found four documents, including three that contained classified information, stored on a Samsung Galaxy smartphone Mallory was given for covert communications by Michael Yang, a man whom Mallory met when he travelled to Shanghai in March and April 2017, according to court documents.
Mallory, of Leesburg, Virginia, told the FBI in a voluntary interview that he had concluded that Yang worked for the People’s Republic of China Intelligence Service, the statement said.
One of the documents on the phone “contained unique identifiers for human sources who had helped the U.S. government,” it said.
Mallory had worked as a covert case officer for the CIA and an intelligence officer for the Defense Intelligence Agency. His security clearance was terminated when he left government service in 2012, the statement said.
Last week officials arrested Ron Hansen, a former officer with the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency, in Washington state for allegedly trying to spy on the United States for China.
Earlier this year, former CIA case officer Jerry Chun Shing Lee was indicted for conspiring to gather or deliver national defence information to China.
Reporting by Mark Hosenball; Writing by Mohammad Zargham; Editing by Sandra Maler