A former CIA agent was arrested and arraigned in court yesterday on accusations of selling top secret documents to Chinese intelligence officers disguised as members of a Chinese think tank.
The man's name is Kevin Patrick Mallory, 60, of Leesburg, Virginia, who is currently a self-employed consultant with GlobalEx LLC, and who used to work for the CIA.
Mallory, who was a fluent speaker of Mandarin Chinese, held a top secret clearance until 2012, the moment when he left government service, according to a Department of Justice statement. Since then, he provided consultancy services through his private company.
According to a criminal complaint, the former CIA agent was approached in February 2017 by a recruiter for a Chinese think tank named the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences (SASS), which according to the FBI, Chinese intelligence officers have used in the past for cover identities.
Investigators say Mallory agreed to meet with the recruiter and traveled to Shanghai in March and April 2017. There he met with an individual who Mallory to whom he handed over several secret and top secret documents in exchange for $25,000.
The Chinese officer also gave Mallory a device for carrying out secure conversations and asked him to engage with US government officials to gain more information.
Weirdly, in March 2017, Mallory reached out to a former colleague to report the meeting he had with Chinese agents. Expecting to meet with his colleague about his contacts with Chinese operatives, Mallory was greeted by FBI agents in late May 2017.
During these meetings, Mallory told the FBI agents about his Chinese contacts and the device he received. He also agreed that FBI agents make an image of this secret device's storage.
Questioned about his meetings, Mallory said the $25,000 payment was for business trip expenses and consultancy, and that he agreed to give the Chinese think tank two whitepaper reports about the US government.
While questioned by the FBI, Mallory also agreed to show the FBI agents how to use the device he received from the Chinese contact. When showing agents how to access the device's secure messaging feature, Mallory was visibly surprised to discover that the device didn't erase past conversations automatically. By that point, it was too late, as FBI agents already had a copy of the device's data.
A later analysis of these secret conversations revealed messages sent by Mallory that read:
your object is to gain information, and my object is to be paid for
The black was to cross out the security classification (TOP SECRET//ORCON/
I have arranged for a USD account in another name. You can send the funds broken into 4 equal payments over 4 consecutive days
In addition, the FBI discovered four of eight documents that Mallory gave the Chinese intelligence officer, some of which were classified Secret or Top Secret.
Conversations also showed that Mallory and the Chinese intelligence officer set up a new meeting in June, where Mallory arranged to give the Chinese agent new files in exchange for new payments.
Yesterday, US authorities charged Mallory with gathering or delivering defense information to aid a foreign government and making material false statements, for which he risks a maximum sentence of life in prison if found guilty.