Former US State Department security officer accused of spying for China

A view of the State Department seal.
A view of the State Department seal.PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (NYTIMES) - A former State Department diplomatic security officer and military contractor was charged with conducting espionage for China after FBI agents found top-secret documents and apparently incriminating messages on a communications device he brought back from Shanghai, the Justice Department said Thursday (June 22).

Kevin Patrick Mallory, 60, of Leesburg, Virginia, made his initial appearance in US District Court in Alexandria, the department said. He is also charged with lying to federal investigators.

"The conduct alleged in this complaint is serious, and these charges should send a message to anyone who would consider violating the public's trust and compromising our national security by disclosing classified information," Dana J. Boente, acting assistant attorney general for national security and US attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, said in a statement.

Geremy C. Kamens, a federal public defender identified on the docket as representing Mallory, did not respond to an email inquiry.

Mallory left the government in 2012 and was working as a self-employed consultant when he was arrested, according to a complaint filed by an FBI agent.

In April, it said, Mallory was returning from a trip to Shanghai when a Customs and Border Protection search of his carry-on luggage revealed that he was bringing US$16,500 in undeclared cash into the United States.

In a subsequent FBI interview, the complaint said, Mallory said he had met an unnamed person at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, a think tank that the US government believes acts as a cutout for the Chinese intelligence service.

That person had hired him to write unclassified papers on an undisclosed topic, he said.

But Mallory told the FBI he believed the person and his boss, whom Mallory also met, might be Chinese intelligence agents, the complaint said, and he showed the bureau a communications device the person had given him.

A subsequent search of the device, the complaint said, recovered several classified documents and messages in which Mallory had discussed removing classification markings from documents he was transmitting.

"Your object is to gain information, and my object is to be paid for," he is said to have written in a message sent May 5.