China has arrested an “important confidential employee” for what it claimed “passing secrets” to the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
China’s State Security Ministry said that the staff member, surnamed Zeng, of a Chinese military-industrial group was transferred to the procuratorate for review and prosecution, according to the Beijing-based daily Global Times.
Zeng has been accused of working for the CIA through its alleged Rome-based station officer “Seth.”
The 52-year-old defense firm employee was sent to Italy for studies by his unit sometime during his career where he became acquainted with alleged CIA agent “Seth,” who the ministry said was an employee at the US Embassy in Rome.
The Chinese ministry said it has “evidence that Zeng was conducting espionage activities.”
“Seth gradually developed a close relationship with Zeng through activities such as dinner parties, outings, and operas.
“Zeng gradually became psychologically dependent on Seth, and Seth took advantage of this to instill Western values into Zeng,” the ministry said.
It added Zeng’s “political stance was shaken” due to his acquaintance with the alleged CIA agent.
Zeng was asked by Seth for “sensitive information about the Chinese military,” and in return, he would get a “huge amount of remuneration” while his family would migrate to the US.
“Zeng agreed and signed an espionage agreement with the US side and accepted the assessment and training from the US,” the ministry said.
It said Zeng continued to “meet secretly with CIA personnel many times” even after returning home following his studies in Italy.
The ministry accused Zeng of providing a “large amount of China’s core information” to the US and collecting espionage funds from the CIA.”
Beijing’s claim of busting the CIA spy network came weeks after William Burns, the CIA’s director, said their agency had “made progress” in rebuilding networks in China.