The authorities secured a guilty plea on Monday from a longtime employee of the Federal Bureau of Investigation accused of lying about his relationship with a Chinese technology company and various Chinese associates.
The government charged that the F.B.I. employee, Kun Shan Chun, had “expressed a willingness to facilitate the passage of sensitive United States government information” to his Chinese associates, including individuals with connections to the Chinese government.
Federal prosecutors in Manhattan said Mr. Chun had also lied to the bureau regarding his contact with these Chinese nationals and the firm based in China, Zhuhai Kolion Technology Company, “as part of a longstanding and concerted effort to conceal these relationships.”
Mr. Chun, who is known as Joey and worked in the bureau’s New York office, pleaded guilty before Magistrate Judge James C. Francis IV of Federal District Court in Manhattan to one count of acting in the United States as an agent of China. The charge carries a maximum prison term of 10 years, but the government and the defense agreed, under federal sentencing guidelines, that a sentence of 21 to 27 months would be appropriate, according to Mr. Chun’s plea agreement.
As he waited for the proceedings to begin, Mr. Chun held his head in his hands, and rubbed a black-banded watch on his wrist. He later told Judge Francis that his conduct had included “passing sensitive information” to a Chinese government official “on multiple occasions.”
“At the time I knew what I was doing was wrong, and I am sorry for my actions,” Mr. Chun said.
The government said that since at least 2006, Mr. Chun and some of his relatives had relationships with Chinese nationals purporting to be affiliated with Kolion, and they had asked him to carry out research and consulting tasks in the United States.
While on a trip to Europe in 2011, Mr. Chun met a Chinese government official, who asked him questions about “sensitive, nonpublic F.B.I. information,” the government said. Among other things, the government added that Mr. Chun disclosed the identity and potential travel plans of an F.B.I. agent.
In court, Emil J. Bove III, a prosecutor, said that when the official asked Mr. Chun for information about the F.B.I.’s internal structure, Mr. Chun downloaded an F.B.I. organizational chart, removed the names of bureau personnel and sent it to the official in China.
According to the office of Preet Bharara, the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, the Chinese official also asked Mr. Chun for information about technology used at the F.B.I.
In January 2015, Mr. Chun took photographs of documents displayed in a restricted area of the bureau’s New York office, prosecutors said, that “summarized sensitive details regarding multiple surveillance technologies” used by the agency. Mr. Chun also sent those photographs to the Chinese official, the government said.
Mr. Bove said in court that Mr. Chun had said he was “motivated in part by financial benefit.”
A criminal complaint shows that Mr. Chun, who is in his mid-40s, had been charged with four counts, including making false statements in a written questionnaire submitted to the F.B.I. in connection with an investigation related to his security clearance.
In a statement, Mr. Chun’s federal public defender, Jonathan Marvinny, said: “Today Joey Chun accepted responsibility for some mistakes in judgment that he deeply regrets. The truth is that Mr. Chun loves the United States and never intended to cause it any harm. He hopes to put this matter behind him and move forward with his life.”
Mr. Chun was born in Guangdong, China, around 1969, entered the United States around 1980 and became a naturalized American citizen in 1985, according to the complaint. He had worked at the F.B.I.’s New York field office as an electronics technician, and was granted a “top secret” security clearance in 1998.
Source: The New York Times