Ex-CIA officer charged with intending to pass secrets to China

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A former Central Intelligence Agency officer has been charged with gathering classified information he allegedly intended to pass to the Chinese government, the U.S. Justice Department said on Tuesday.

Jerry Chun Shing Lee, 53, was indicted by a federal grand jury in Virginia on one count of conspiracy to gather or deliver national defense information to aid a foreign government and two counts of unlawfully retaining documents related to the national defense.

Lee, who worked by the CIA from 1994 to 2007, was arrested in January at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York. He is a resident of Hong Kong.

In 2010, Lee was approached by two Chinese intelligence officers who offered to pay him for information, the Justice Department said.

FBI agents searched Lee’s hotel rooms in 2012 during trips to Virginia and Hawaii and discovered he had information that included the true names and numbers of spy recruits and covert CIA employees, the department said.

If convicted, Lee faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Reporting by Eric Beech; Editing by Eric Walsh