Former CIA officer indicted for Chinese spying had accomplice

Lee, who is accused of preparing documents in response to Chinese requests, making unexplained cash deposits and lying to the FBI, may have had help.
Image: A man (right, wearing blue tie) identified by local Hong Kong media as former CIA agent Jerry Chun Shing Lee
A man (right, wearing blue tie) identified by local Hong Kong media as former CIA agent Jerry Chun Shing Lee stands in front of a member of security at the unveiling of Leonardo da Vinci's 'Salvator Mundi' painting at the Christie's showroom in Hong Kong on Oct. 13, 2017.Anthony Wallace / AFP - Getty Images file

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By Tom Winter and Ken Dilanian

Former CIA officer-turned-accused Chinese spy Jerry Chun Shing Lee had an accomplice in his alleged espionage against the U.S., according to new court documents.

The disclosure of the second individual as an unindicted co-conspirator in the high profile espionage case was made Wednesday in an order on Lee's case by federal judge T.S. Ellis III. The FBI copied the contents of seven different devices belonging to the co-conspirator on April 28, 2013, according to the order.

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The imaging — a form of copying of the device data — occurred almost a year after a hotel room Lee was staying in was searched by federal agents in 2012. The filing does not indicate if the co-conspirator is a Chinese national or an American or what was the person's alleged role in the spy scheme.

Lee, 53, was arrested in January 2018 when he arrived in the U.S. on a flight from Hong Kong. He was initially charged with illegally possessing classified information — two handwritten notebooks containing names and phone numbers of covert CIA employees and informants.

In May he was indicted by a federal grand jury with an additional count of espionage. Prosecutors said that in 2010, two Chinese intelligence officers offered to pay Lee for information and that he continued to receive instructions from them until at least 2011.

He was accused of preparing documents in response to the Chinese requests, making several unexplained cash deposits and repeatedly lying to the FBI when he was questioned about his actions overseas.

Court documents said the Chinese spies told Lee they had prepared "a gift of $100,000 in exchange for his cooperation and that they would take care of him for life."

A secret FBI–CIA task force investigating the case concluded that the Chinese government penetrated the CIA's method of clandestine communication with its spies, NBC News first reported in January. The Chinese used that knowledge to arrest and execute at least 20 CIA informants, according to multiple current and former U.S. government officials.

American officials suspect China then shared that information with Russia, which employed it to expose, arrest and possibly even kill American spies in that country, said the current and former officials, who declined to be named discussing a highly sensitive matter.