Former Defense Intelligence Agency officer Ron Rockwell Hansen was arrested Saturday for allegedly attempting to send national defense information to China, according to a Monday announcement from the Department of Justice. The 15-count complaint accuses Hansen of “attempting to gather or deliver national defense information to aid a foreign government,” as well as “acting as an unregistered foreign agent for China” and smuggling cash and goods.
Assistant Attorney General John C. Demers said,
Ron Rockwell Hansen is a former Defense Intelligence Agency officer who allegedly attempted to transmit national defense information to the People’s Republic of China’s intelligence service (PRCIS) and also allegedly received hundreds of thousands of dollars while illegally acting as an agent of China. His alleged actions are a betrayal of our nation’s security and the American people and are an affront to his former intelligence community colleagues.”
Hansen will appear Monday evening before the U.S. District Court in Seattle.
The Justice Department’s National Security Division alleges Ron Rockwell Hansen was carrying classified information when he was taken into custody on Saturday while on his way to board a flight to China. It is the latest in a series of arrests of American officials on charges of spying for Beijing. Hansen, from Syracuse, Utah, the charges said, had retired from the U.S. Army where he worked in signals intelligence. Fluent in Mandarin and Russian, he was recruited in 2006 to work for the DIA as a case officer, someone who recruits and manages foreign agents.
Hansen was based out of a commercial office in Beijing and from there made contact directly with Chinese intelligence of his own accord and without being directed to do so by his leadership. Over the next several years he tried to pitch himself to the DIA and FBI as a potential double agent who would act ultimately for the U.S.
Investigators said he had regular meetings with Chinese intelligence agents that he never reported, used cellphones provided to him by Chinese sources, and retained classified information to which he was not supposed to have access. They said Hansen was in deep financial trouble between 2013 and 2016, with debts of several hundred thousand dollars. During and after that time he received more than $800,000 from China, often cash that he carried to the US, that he could not explain.
By early 2018 the FBI alleges that Hansen was seeking information from his former American colleagues on the U.S. position on North and South Korea, as well as its military operations planned against China — his plan? Sell the information to his Chinese contacts. Among the documents he provided to the Chinese was the location of Us Cyber Command’s outposts across the globe – which when taken individually are not that sensitive but when placed along side so much of the other information the Chinese have been collecting on US capabilities in the past decade, it paints a much more detailed and sensitive picture than any American should be comfortable with.
In January, former CIA agent Jerry Chun Shing Lee was arrested on charges that he sold information to China. Lee was indicted last month. He is accused of having provided information on the CIA’s network of Chinese informants that was brought down by Beijing between 2010 and 2012, effectively crippling a large part of U.S. intelligence operations in the region.
Former State Department official Kevin Mallory was also arrested in 2017 for spying on behalf of China. Another U.S. diplomat, Candace Marie Claiborne, was arrested for taking money from Chinese intelligence officials, though she was not directly accused of supplying information in exchange.
Featured image: The front page of the affidavit against Ron Rockwell Hansen. By the author [Public Domain].