Former Defense Intelligence Officer Charged with Espionage for China

BEIJING, CHINA - NOVEMBER 9: The U.S. flag flies at a welcoming ceremony between Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Donald Trump November 9, 2017 in Beijing, China. Trump is on a 10-day trip to Asia. (Photo by Thomas Peter-Pool/Getty Images)
Thomas Peter-Pool/Getty Images

A Utah man who worked for the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) has been charged with attempting to transfer defense intelligence to China, the Department of Justice announced Monday.

Ron Rockwell Hansen was arrested by the FBI as the former defense intelligence officer was en route to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, allegedly intending to board a flight 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,” Assistant Attorney General Demers said in a statement.

“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.”

Hasen, facing a 15-count complaint,  is accused of attempting to collect and transmit “national defense information to aid a foreign government” while operating an “unregistered foreign agent for China.” The 58-year-old is also accused of smuggling bulk cash and goods from the United States into a foreign country.

According to court documents summarized by the Justice Department, China paid Hasen — a retired U.S. Army Warrant Officer — at least $800,000 for his services since 2013:

DIA hired Hansen as a civilian intelligence case officer in 2006.  Hansen held a Top Secret clearance for many years, and signed several non-disclosure agreements during his tenure at DIA and as a government contractor.

Between 2013 and 2017, Hansen regularly traveled between the United States and China, attending military and intelligence conferences in the U.S. and provided the information he learned at the conferences to contacts in China associated with the PRCIS.  Hansen received payments for this information by a variety of methods, including cash, wires and credit card transactions.  He also improperly sold export-controlled technology to persons in China.  From May of 2013 to the date of the complaint, Hansen received not less than $800,000 in funds originating from China.

“These allegations are very troubling in their description of conduct that runs contrary to how we identify ourselves as Americans,” said U.S. Attorney John Huber for the District of Utah. “On the other hand, revealed details of this lengthy investigation reflect effective performance and dedication on the part of the men and women of the FBI and their partners.”

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