FBI employee pleads guilty to spying for China

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An FBI employee pleaded guilty Monday to sharing sensitive information with a Chinese government official. (Photo: Thinkstock)

NEW YORK — An FBI employee with top secret security clearance pleaded guilty on Monday to passing confidential information to China.

Kun Shan Chun, who worked at the FBI for nearly two decades as an electronics technician, was arrested March 16 for passing sensitive information to an official with the Chinese government.

“Americans who act as unauthorized foreign agents commit a federal offense that betrays our nation and threatens our security,” said U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. “And when the perpetrator is an FBI employee, like Kun Shan Chun, the threat is all the more serious and the betrayal all the more duplicitous.”

Chun, who was born in China, started his illicit relationship with Chinese nationals in 2006, prosecutors said. A Chinese manufacturer of printers,  Zhuhai Kolion Technology Company Ltd., asked Chun, 46, to perform research for them in the U.S. in exchange for financial benefits. In 2011, while Chun was travelling in Italy and France, a Chinese government official met with Chun and asked him for sensitive FBI information.

The government official and people from Kulion also paid for Chun’s travel, supplied him with prostitutes and gave money to Chun’s family in exchange for information, according to the criminal complaint.

Chun shared information on the identity and travel of an FBI Special agent during his meetings with the Chinese official, prosecutors said. He also shared a copy of an FBI organizational chart and photos of internal documents about surveillance technology with the official.

The FBI started investigating Chun in February of 2015. They sent an undercover agent, who pretended to be an independent consultant for the Defense Department, to meet up with Chun. Chun told the undercover agent about his connections to China and attempted to recruit the operative as a spy for China.

Chun lied to the FBI during regular security checks, saying he had not had any contact with foreign nationals during his international travel, according to the criminal complaint. The undercover agent recorded Chun admitting to lying about his interactions with foreign nationals.

“No one is above the law, to include employees of the FBI,” said Assistant Director in Charge of the New York FBI office Diego Rodriguez. “We understand as an agency we are trusted by the public to protect our nation’s most sensitive information, and we have to do everything in our power to uphold that trust.”

Chun faces a maximum sentence of 10-years in prison. He’s scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 2.

His lawyer, Jonathan Marvinny, said Chun hopes to put this behind him and move on with his life.

“Today Joey Chun accepted responsibility for some mistakes in judgment that he deeply regrets,” Marvinny said. “The truth is that Mr. Chun loves the United States and never intended to cause it any harm.”