Former CIA Officer Charged with Espionage

A Hawaii resident who worked for the Central Intelligence Agency in the 1980s has been charged with espionage.

Alexander Yuk Ching Ma was arrested on August 14 for allegedly passing classified information to intelligence officials of the People's Republic of China (PRC) over a ten-year period in exchange for money and expensive gifts.

The 67-year-old is accused of conspiring with a relative of his who was also previously employed as a CIA officer to communicate information up to the Top Secret level. 

Ma was born in Hong Kong but became a naturalized US citizen. While working for the CIA from 1982 to 1989, Ma held a Top Secret clearance and signed numerous non-disclosure agreements in which he acknowledged his responsibility and ongoing duty to protect US government secrets.

After leaving the CIA, Ma lived and worked in Shanghai, China, before moving to Hawaii in 2001.

Court documents allege that Ma and his co-conspirator's involvement with PRC spies began in March 2001 with three days of meetings in Hong Kong. During these meetings, the two former CIA officers allegedly sold information to the foreign intelligence service about the CIA’s personnel, operations, and methods of concealing communications.  

Part of the meeting was captured on videotape, including a portion where Ma can be seen receiving $50,000 in cash from the PRC intelligence officials.

It is further alleged that after Ma moved to Hawaii, he sought employment with the FBI in order to once again gain access to classified United States government information that he could sell on to his PRC handlers. 

Ma was hired as a contract linguist in 2004 by the FBI’s Honolulu Field Office. It is alleged that for the next six years, Ma used his position to regularly copy, photograph, and steal secret documents.  

It is further alleged that Ma gave some of these documents to his handlers during his frequent trips to China from which he would often return with thousands of dollars in cash and expensive gifts.

Ma is charged with conspiracy to communicate national defense information to aid a foreign government and faces a maximum penalty of life imprisonment if convicted.

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