US Central Intelligence Agency
This is the second time a CIA officer has been expelled from Germany for recruiting spies within the government. Reuters


  • A 15-year CIA veteran was arrested for allegedly selling top-secret US intelligence to China 
  • Evidence showed Alexander Yuk Ching Ma holding a series of meetings with MSS officials in Hong Kong
  • Ma leaked several classified information about the CIA
  • These include the agency's personnel information and international operations, among others

A former CIA agent was arrested and charged for allegedly selling sensitive U.S. information to the People's Republic of China.

67-year-old Alexander Yuk Ching Ma was taken into custody Monday after audio and video evidence showed him holding several meetings with at least five Ministry of State Security (MSS) officials in 2001 in Hong Kong. It was during these meetings that Ma exposed “a substantial amount of highly classified national defense information,” court documents said, reported ABC News.

Ma, who served with the CIA for 15 years, leaked important details about the agency including personnel information, international operations, human assets and “cover” used by CIA operatives, among others.

The Central Intelligence Agency's seal on the floor of its headquarters in Langley, Virginia
The Central Intelligence Agency's seal on the floor of its headquarters in Langley, Virginia AFP / SAUL LOEB

He and an unidentified relative who also worked with the CIA received $500,000 in the meeting.

“The trail of Chinese espionage is long and, sadly, strewn with former American intelligence officers who betrayed their colleagues, their country and its liberal democratic values to support an authoritarian communist regime.

“To the Chinese intelligence services, these individuals are expendable. To us, they are sad but urgent reminders of the need to stay vigilant,” said assistant attorney general for national security John Demers, according to NBC News.

Ma then went on to apply for the FBI after relocating to Hawaii. In 2004, the FBI Honolulu Field Office hired him as a contract linguist where he “reviewed and translated Chinese language documents.”

His application was received despite the FBI conducting a series of background checks and interviews. At the same time, Ma maintained communication with his Chinese “handlers.”

Over the next six years, Ma would copy, photograph and steal important documents that were often classified with markings such as “SECRET.” He would then travel to China to give the information to his “handlers.”

He would then return to the US with thousands of dollars and expensive gifts, said the Sacramento Bee, citing a statement for the Department of Justice.

When the FBI learned of Ma's activities, an undercover agent posed as a representative of the Chinese government and set a meeting. According to NBC News, the agent claimed to be conducting an investigation into how Ma “had been treated, including the amount he had been compensated.”

Ma met with the undercover agent twice in the spring of 2019. Video footage showed him accepting $2,000 in cash as a gesture of appreciation for his work. They met again on August 12, 2020 and received more money for his services. The DOJ said that Ma “wanted 'the motherland' to succeed.”

“This betrayal is never worth it. Whether immediately, or many years after they thought they got away with it, we will find these traitors and we will bring them to justice,” said Demers.

Ma is charged with conspiracy to communicate national defense information to aid a foreign government. If convicted, he could face maximum life imprisonment, said the Bee.