An FBI employee arrested on suspicion of leaking sensitive information to China has pleaded guilty.
On Monday, Kun Shan Chun, 47, pleaded guilty in a court in New York to one count acting as an agent for China, according to ABC News. He reportedly stole vital information about the FBI and provided it to representatives of the Chinese government and a Chinese company called Zhukai Kolion Technology Company Ltd. in exchange for benefits, including financial reward.
Chun, who is an electronics technician with the FBI’s Field Office in New York, has been with an FBI employee for nearly two decades. He has had access to Top Secret FBI files since 1998, NBC New York reported. Chun confessed in court on Monday that he only began his espionage activities in 2011, according to the Wall Street Journal. Nonetheless, court papers show that Chun and his relatives have been in contact with several people with ties to Kolion since 2006.
The FBI employee was arrested in March after an internal investigation. Last year, Chun unwittingly confessed to an undercover FBI agent, who was investigating him, that he could facilitate the sale of classified U.S. government information to Chinese government agents.
Prosecutors said that Chun took photos of confidential FBI documents and leaked information about the FBI’s internal structure as well as the identity of at least one FBI agent, according to the Wall Street Journal. Chun reportedly also conducted research for his Chinese associates and provided them with expert opinion on technology-related issues, ABC News reported.
The FBI employee’s arrest has highlighted concerns about espionage in the country. In recent years, China been accused of spying on U.S. companies and government agencies. Chun told the court that the Chinese government is seeking people who are willing to work as undercover agents in exchange for payment and other rewards.
“Americans who act as unauthorized foreign agents commit a federal offense that betrays our nation and threatens our security,” Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement. “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 is a naturalized U.S. citizen, was reportedly born in Guangdong, China. According to the complaint, Chun’s relatives also benefited from his espionage activities and urged him to carry on with it. It is unclear any of the family members of the discredited FBI employee would face charges.
Chun reportedly lied to the FBI, failing to disclose that he had made contact with representatives of the Chinese government and Zolion during a routine security check. The FBI opened an investigation into Chun in February last year.
Court papers show that besides money, the Chinese associates of the arrested FBI employee also rewarded him with prostitutes and paid travels, Pix 11 reported.
The undercover agent assigned to investigate Chun appear to have got him talking by claiming to be a private defense contractor with sensitive government information to sell, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Chun could face up to 10 years in jail. He is set to be sentenced at the end of the year. It is unclear if the FBI has dismissed him from his job with the organization.
Johnathan Marvinny, the lawyer of the arrested FBI employee, who described Chun’s wrongdoing as “mistakes in judgment,” said his client is remorseful and did not mean to harm the U.S.
“The truth is that Mr. Chun loves the United States and never intended to cause any harm. He hopes to put this matter behind him and move forward with his life,” Marvinny said.
[Photo by Richard Vogel/AP Images]