Ex-CIA officer sentenced to 20 years in prison over Chinese spying conspiracy

Ex-CIA officer sentenced to 20 years in prison over Chinese spying conspiracy
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A former CIA officer was sentenced to 20 years in prison on Friday for a conspiracy to send national defense information to a Chinese intelligence operative.

Kevin Patrick Mallory, 62, was charged in 2017 and convicted last June under the Espionage Act. Officials said Mallory’s actions put intelligence assets in harm’s way as China continues to try to recruit former U.S. agents.

U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III issued the sentence in federal court in Alexandria, Va., on Friday.

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“Mallory not only put our country at great risk, but he endangered the lives of specific human assets who put their own safety at risk for our national defense,” G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, said in a statement.

“As the Chinese continue to attempt to identify and recruit current and former members of the United States intelligence community, those individuals should remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity to the appropriate security officials. This case should send a message to anyone considering violating the public’s trust and compromising our national security by disclosing classified information.” 

A federal jury convicted Mallory of conspiracy to deliver, attempted delivery and delivery of national defense information to aid a foreign government, and making material false statements. A district court ordered acquittal over the delivery and attempted delivery of national defense information charges due to lack of venue.

Prosecutors said Mallory, who is fluent in Mandarin, travelled to Shanghai in March and April 2017 to meet with Michael Yang, an employee of a Chinese think tank who Mallory believed to be a Chinese intelligence agent.

Mallory allowed the FBI to review a covert communications device Yang had given him to facilitate secret communications. Analysis of the Samsung Galaxy smartphone uncovered several discussions between the two that included talk of classified information that Mallory could sell to China’s intelligence agency. 

Prosecutors determined the former U.S. agent was prepared to securely send at least five classified U.S. government documents via the device, one of which contained unique identifiers for human intelligence sources. At least two documents were successfully transmitted.

Mallory previously held several positions in the U.S. government and with an array of defense contractors, including working as a covert case officer for the CIA and an intelligence officer for the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). At various points in his career, he obtained a top secret security clearance, which was terminated in October 2012 when he left government service.