20 years in prison.
That’s how long an ex-CIA officer was sentenced to on Friday after being convicted of revealing military secrets to China and potentially seeking to expose human assets who were once his responsibility.
In June, 62-year-old Kevin Mallory was found guilty on charges of spying for China.
U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III handed down the sentence on Friday, which is less than the life sentence as sought by prosecutors. It’s also double what the defense requested.
The former intelligence officer was convicted under the Espionage Act after prosecutors say he provided classified information to Chinese handlers in exchange for $25,000.
Authorities first became aware of Mallory’s acts after he was randomly picked for a secondary screening at Chicago O’Hare International Airport in April 2017 on a flight back from Shanghai with his son. That’s when customs agents found $16,500 in unreported cash.
He then went through voluntary interviews with law enforcement officials. But he caught off guard when a Samsung phone provided to him by the Chinese showed text conversations between Mallory and the Chinese recruiter.
Here’s what Mallory wrote in one text message to his Chinese handler:
“Your object is to gain information, and my object is to be paid”.
According to prosecutor John Gibbs, the former CIA officer was “desperate for money, and the most valuable thing he had was our nation’s secrets.”
Gibbs added that the $25,000 Mallory received was just a glimpse into what would have occurred if he hadn’t been caught.
There were a number of delays leading to the 20-year sentence being handed down.
The judge wanted to clarify the exact value of the information Mallory provided to the Chinese, while the prosecutors and the defense clashed on the issue of whether the defendant tried to put human assets at risk.
A good part of the case remains classified, according to court records. But prosecutors believe Mallory either sent or intended to send evidence that would have exposed human assets described as “the Johnsons.”
According to Gibbs, Mallory was the Johnsons’ handler when he was at the CIA.
Judge Ellis said he couldn’t conclusively say that Mallory planned on exposing human assets. The judge also said it’s no doubt his “long-term intentions” were sinister.
“If I had concluded that sources had been compromised … I would impose a far more severe sentence,” Ellis said.
U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III went on:
“If you choose to play footsie with another country … you have committed a crime. Don’t think that you can be a double agent.”
According to the defense, a long sentence shouldn’t be applied.
Why? Because they say he only received a small sum of money from the Chinese and that he voluntarily disclosed his contacts with the Chinese to his former employers at the CIA.
The judge pointed out the number was only small because he was caught in an early stage of his work with the Chinese.
Mallory’s attorneys say they will appeal the conviction.
Being a traitor is generally frowned upon by patriotic Americans.
Take, for example, Chelsea Manning, who landed back in jail recently.
A federal appeals court rejected a bid by the former Army intelligence analyst to be released and left Manning behind bars for refusing to testify to a grand jury investigating Wikileaks.
The unanimous decision was handed down by a three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond. In a three paragraph brief, they rejected Manning’s argument of being erroneously found in civil contempt of court, and rejected the request for bail while the content decision is being litigated.
Manning has been in jail at the Alexandria Detention Center since March 8, after refusing to testify to the grand jury investigating Wikileaks.
The potential prison sentence that the 32-year-old is facing is 18 months.
In the time since Manning’s incarceration, criminal charges have also been filed against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. Those charges have been unsealed, and U.S. officials have requested his extradition. Lawyers are arguing that Manning’s testimony is unnecessary because Assange has already been charged.
Manning was originally sentenced to 35 years behind bars for leaking a trove of military and diplomatic documents to Wikileaks. Then-President Barack Obama then commuted the remainder of Manning’s sentence after Manning served seven years in a military prison.
Lawyers for the criminal say Manning told authorities everything known during the court-martial investigation. They argued that incarceration was unnecessarily cruel because the jail can’t provide adequate medical care in connection with Manning’s sex-change surgery.
Prosecutors had granted immunity to Manning for grand jury testimony, but responded by saying they believe Manning has more to say about interactions with Wikileaks than previously disclosed. They also say Manning is out of line for disrupting the grand-jury process on nothing more than speculation that the criminal is being singled out for harassment.
They also say that the jail has gone out of its way to accommodate all of Manning’s medical needs.