On June 22, authorities charged former CIA officer Kevin Patrick Mallory with providing secret and top-secret information to Chinese intelligence officials and then lying about it to FBI agents.

Mallory, 60, was a self-employed consultant with GlobalEx at the time of his arrest on espionage charges, according to the Criminal Complaint.

Mallory met with a person purported to be with the Chinese think tank Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences in March and April 2017. The U.S. government believes that person is a Chinese spy. FBI officials investigating the think tank have discovered that it maintains a close relationship with Chinese governmental security agencies, and that those agencies often use think tank members as “spotters and assessors.” The FBI also has discovered that government security personnel have used their think to take affiliation as a cover.

Mallory once held a top-secret security clearance as a result of his work history within the U.S. government. However, that clearance ended when he left his government job in 2012.

The Virginia resident raised suspicion on April 21 while being searched by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials at Chicago O’Hare Airport upon returning from a trip to China. On a Customs Declaration Form, Mallory declared he didn’t have more than $10,000 in the U.S. or foreign currency. However, a search of his luggage revealed he was in possession of $16,500 in cash.

In a subsequent interview with FBI officials in Virginia, Mallory revealed his think tank contact had given him a communication device so the two of them could communicate with each other. The device was capable to communicating in a secure mode and a normal mode, the complaint stated.

Former CIA Officer Convicted of Espionage

Investigators who searched the device’s contents found evidence that Mallory had shared several documents classified as secret and top secret with his Chinese contact, and that he had intended to provide additional documents in exchange for payment.

“The conduct alleged in this complaint is serious, and these charges should send a message to anyone who would consider violating the public’s trust and compromising our national security by disclosing classified information,” said Dana J. Boente, acting assistant attorney general for national security and U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, in a statement.

Are you applying for a security clearance? Keep yourself out of legal trouble by ensuring you understand what is expected of you when it comes to protecting sensitive information you deal with while performing your job duties.

Any level of classified information may be shared only with people who have been determined by a proper U.S. government official to have access eligibility and a need to know. Foreign governments that receive American classified information are granted access only if the originating U.S. agency has determined that its release is appropriate, according to government documents.