Former CIA officer Jerry Lee expected to plead guilty in spying case

By RACHEL WEINER | The Washington Post | Published: April 30, 2019

A former CIA officer is expected to plead guilty more than a year after being arrested and charged with conspiracy to spy for China and unlawful retention of classified information.

Jerry Chun Shing Lee was scheduled to go to trial this week, having maintained through an attorney that he was a “loyal American.”

But a hearing to change his plea has been set for Wednesday afternoon in federal court in Alexandria, Va., before Judge T.S. Ellis III. Prosecutors would not provide further details, and no plea is final until it is entered in court and approved by the judge.

Lee is one of three former intelligence operatives accused of spying for China in the past two years. Former CIA and DIA officer Kevin Mallory was found guilty at a trial last year and will be sentenced in May. Former DIA officer Ron Hansen pleaded guilty in March and is serving a 15-year prison sentence.

Lee left the CIA in 2007 and worked in the tobacco business from Hong Kong, according to court filings. But he was fired from his first job and struggled starting his own business. In 2010, Chinese intelligence officials approached him with promises of lifetime security starting with a gift of $100,000, according to his indictment.

The case has been shrouded in secrecy since Lee’s arrest last February. Nearly every hearing in the case has been closed to the public, and most motions were filed under seal. In a rare public order earlier this month, as both sides were still preparing for trial, Ellis ruled on what portions of Lee’s interviews with the CIA could be used in court.

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