Former CIA Officer Admits To Spying For China Agrees To 10-Year Sentence

A former CIA officer and FBI contract linguist Alexander Yuk Ching Ma, 72, pleaded guilty on Friday to conspiring to gather and deliver national defense information to China in a federal courtroom in Honolulu. Ma who has been in custody since his arrest in August 2020 admitted to engaging in espionage activities for at least a decade.

As part of a plea deal with prosecutors, Ma agreed to a 10-year prison sentence a substantial reduction from the potential life sentence he faced. The U.S. Justice Department had amassed a “war chest of damning evidence” against him including a video from 2001 showing Ma and an older relative also a former CIA officer providing classified information to Chinese intelligence officers and receiving $50,000 in return.

During a sting operation, Ma accepted thousands of dollars in cash for his past espionage activities and expressed his desire to see the “motherland” succeed to an undercover FBI agent posing as a Chinese intelligence officer. The secrets he provided included information about CIA sources and assets international operations secure communication practices and operational tradecraft.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Ken Sorenson disclosed that Ma’s hiring as a part-time contract linguist for the FBI was a “ruse” to monitor his contact with Chinese intelligence officers. The FBI had been aware of Ma’s ties and chose to employ him at an off-site location in Honolulu as stated in the plea agreement.

Ma’s sentencing is scheduled for September 11, where a judge will have the final say on the agreed-upon 10-year sentence.