Stories

SaveSave story

How the CIA’s spy network in China collapsed

Hong Kong media have identified the man in the blue tie as Jerry Chun Shing Lee, the suspected mole. Photo: Anthon Wallace /AFP/Getty Images

An ex-CIA agent betrays the agency, feeding the identities of local informants to the Chinese, who carry out a systematic and deadly operation to break the network. A years-long search leads FBI agents to the ex-operative’s hotel room, where handwritten notes cause them to suspect he's the mole they’ve hunted for.

Why it matters: These were the events leading up to Jerry Chun Shing Lee’s arrest on Monday, if investigators' suspicions prove correct. The affair ranks among the worst intelligence failures in U.S. history, and crippled U.S. espionage operations in China, according to reporting from the NY Times.