A former officer for the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), the country’s top military intelligence agency, pleaded guilty to attempted espionage.
Ron Rockwell Hansen, a Utah resident who previously worked for the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), had been arrested in June 2018. He “pleaded guilty today in the District of Utah in connection with his attempted transmission of national defense information to the People’s Republic of China,” according to a U.S. Department of Justice press release.
“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 last year, following Hansen’s arrest.
Hansen, a fluent Mandarin speaker, had worked for the DIA for more than a decade, according to court documents related to his case. According to prosecutors, he had 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.
According to a U.S. Department of Justice last week, Hansen admitted in his plea agreement that he had been targeted by “agents of a Chinese intelligence service” and “began meeting with them regularly in China.”
“Hansen received hundreds of thousands of dollars in compensation for information he provided them, including information he gathered at various industry conferences,” the U.S. Department of Justice noted. For nearly two years between 2016 and 2018, Hansen was also found to have solicited intelligence from another DIA case officer that Chinese intelligence services “would find valuable,” according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
“Hansen advised the DIA case officer how to record and transmit classified information without detection, and explained how to hide and launder any funds received as payment for classified information,” the release on his plea agreement noted. The case officer that Hansen had approached was instrumental in notifying the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) about his activities.
Hansen’s case is one of many unveiled in recent years underscoring heightened U.S. counterintelligence efforts. Employees and contractors associated with the U.S. Department of State, the FBI, and the Central Intelligence Agency have also been charged with attempted espionage and other espionage-related charges.
In 2019, the U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence observed in its Worldwide Threat Assessment that “China and Russia pose the greatest espionage and cyber attack threats” to the United States.