A newly released report claims that the Chinese government killed or imprisoned as many as 20 CIA sources between 2010 and 2012.
The International Business Times reports that the CIA and FBI both refused to comment on new reports stating that between 18 and 20 CIA sources were killed or imprisoned by the Chinese government between 2010 and 2012. This was reportedly done to dismantle the CIA’s operations in the country. Current and former American officials told the New York Times that this would constitute one of the biggest intelligence breaches in decades.
The source of the information breach is currently unknown, at the moment the two most likely scenarios are that a CIA double agent provided information on CIA sources to the Chinese government, or the Chinese government has somehow gained access to CIA communications and intercepted messages sent between the agency and their informants. Officials stated that the number of assets lost to China was comparable to the loss of US assets to the Soviet Union as a result of the work of spies Aldrich Ames and Robert Hanssen who leaked classified US documents to the Soviets.
This isn’t the first time that China has supposedly attempted to hinder American spying operations; in 2015 the U.S. was forced to pull out spies operating in China after a cyber attack compromised the personal data of 21.5 million government workers, leaving the spies vulnerable. It was also suspected that the data breach at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management which revealed the fingerprint information of 5.6 million government employees was carried out by the Chinese. This had a huge impact on U.S. national security as some of the hacked data included information from U.S. government forms that are used for security clearances.
In April, another hacking group broke into National Foreign Trade Council (NFTC) website, leaving malicious links on areas of the website that NFTC members would use to register for upcoming meetings. Reuters stated in their report, “The malicious link deployed a spying tool called Scanbox, which would have recorded the type and versions of software running on the computers of those exposed to it.”
Both the FBI and the NFTC declined to comment on the current situation, as did a spokesperson for the Chinese foreign ministry.