Former US Defense Intelligence Agency Officer Arrested, Charged With Attempted Espionage for China

The U.S. Department of Justice has charged a former U.S. intelligence officer with attempted espionage.

Former US Defense Intelligence Agency Officer Arrested, Charged With Attempted Espionage for China
Credit: ahenobarbus via Flickr/Wikimedia Commons

On Monday, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that a former U.S. intelligence officer had been arrested and charged with attempted espionage for China.

Ron Rockwell Hansen, a Utah resident who previously worked for the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA),”was arrested Saturday afternoon on federal charges including the attempted transmission of national defense information to the People’s Republic of China,” according to a Department of Justice press release.

Hansen was arrested while attempting to travel to Seattle to board a flight that would have taken him to China.

“Ron Rockwell Hansen is a former Defense Intelligence Agency officer who allegedly attempted to transmit national defense information to the People’s Republic of China’s intelligence service (PRCIS) and also allegedly received hundreds of thousands of dollars while illegally acting as an agent of China,” said U.S. Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers, in a statement on Monday.

“His alleged actions are a betrayal of our nation’s security and the American people and are an affront to his former intelligence community colleagues.  Our intelligence professionals swear an oath to protect our country’s most closely held secrets and the National Security Division will continue to relentlessly pursue justice against those who violate this oath,” Demers added.

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Hansen, a fluent Mandarin speaker, had worked for the DIA for more than a decade, according to court documents related to his case. Hansen reportedly shared information and facilitated the sale of export-controlled equipment to Chinese agents and received “not less than $800,000 in funds originating from China” in return.

Hansen also made “repeated” attempts to gain access to classified U.S. intelligence after leaving service with the DIA. Aside from the charges related to Hansen’s attempts to gather information for Chinese intelligence officers, federal prosecutors have also charged him with financial crimes, including cash smuggling, goods smuggling, and structuring transactions. Details of Hansen’s alleged interactions with Chinese intelligence agents are detailed in the court documents related to his case made available on Monday.

Hansen’s case appears to be the latest within the U.S. intelligence community, law enforcement agencies, and the military in recent years to be connected to China. U.S. counterintelligence has made thwarting Chinese attempts at recruiting human intelligence assets a priority.

In recent years, federal prosecutors have charged or investigated a U.S. State Department employee, a U.S. naval flight officer, a Federal Bureau of Investigation technician, and others in connection to suspected espionage for China. Earlier this year, Jerry Chun Shing Lee, a former Central Intelligence Agency officer, was arrested and charged with the “unlawful retention of national defense information.”