Former CIA officer accused of spying for China set to change plea

Jerry Lee, a former CIA officer accused of spying for the Chinese, is set to change his not guilty plea at a hearing in Virginia federal court on Wednesday.

Lee’s case was scheduled to go to trial this week in an Alexandria, Virginia, courthouse, but the start date was abruptly canceled last week via an online court filing and replaced with a nondescript hearing. On Tuesday, the court renamed that hearing as a change of plea hearing.

Lee was charged in 2018 with conspiracy to gather or deliver defense information to aid a foreign government and unlawful retention of national defense information.

His attorney, Edward B. MacMahon, declined to comment to CNN ahead of the plea being made public.

The 13-year veteran of the CIA is believed to have helped China dismantle a US spy network in the country and identify informants who were later killed or imprisoned. The New York Times reported last year that the imprisonment or execution of a dozen Chinese nationals working for the US was “one of the most devastating intelligence setbacks for the agency in recent decades.”

Court documents described notebooks Lee kept with the names and phone numbers of CIA assets and undercover officers, as well as the addresses of covert facilities and operational notes, handwritten into the pages.

The Justice Department has also said Lee admitted to the FBI that he prepared a document containing classified information on a thumb drive for Chinese intelligence.