Ex-China spymaster Ma Jian jailed for life over graft

BEIJING (AFP) - Former Chinese spymaster Ma Jian was jailed for life over corruption, a court in north-eastern China announced on Thursday (Dec 27).

"Ma Jian's behaviour constituted the crime of accepting bribes, forcing others to trade and insider trading," the Dalian Intermediate People's Court in Liaoning province announced in a statement.

Ma, a former deputy head of China's ministry of state security, was put under investigation for corruption in 2015 and expelled from the Communist Party the following year.

He pleaded guilty and has decided not to file an appeal, the court said, adding that his political rights have been revoked for life and all his personal assets confiscated.

Ma's fall from grace was precipitated by a sweeping investigation into other figures in China's security apparatus, most notably Zhou Yongkang, who was responsible for the security ministry and Ma's boss in 2012.

The ministry of state security is often described as China's equivalent of the Soviet Union's much-feared KGB and is said to be responsible for intelligence gathering and surveillance.