SALT LAKE CITY — A former U.S. intelligence officer was charged with attempted espionage for trying to sell secrets to China, the Justice Department announced Monday.
In a 41-page felony complaint, prosecutors claimed Syracuse, Utah, resident Ron Rockwell Hansen, 58, was paid up to $800,000 over several years for passing along technology and information about U.S. military and intelligence issues.
Several years after he left the U.S. government, he allegedly attended trade conferences on behalf of China and shared information he gathered with officials connected to Chinese intelligence. Charging documents also allege he transferred forensic software worth several thousand dollars, in violation of export controls.
If convicted, he faces life in prison. No attorney was listed for Hansen in charging documents. No phone number was publicly listed.
According to charging documents, Hansen spent more than 20 years in the U.S. Army including time with the Defense Intelligence Agency. He left the military in 2006 but spent several months as a civilian case officer with the DIA.
He then started working at a pair of digital forensics companies but repeatedly sought work with the government, according to the felony complaint. Among other offers, he allegedly tried to work as a double agent against Chinese intelligence.
The FBI began investigating Hansen in 2014. Unaware of that investigation, he allegedly approached the FBI in 2015 and said Chinese security officials had offered him $300,000 per year to pass along information from U.S. conference and exhibitions.
In 2016, Hansen allegedly told an FBI informant that he was doing consulting for China's Ministry of State Security.
Prosecutors say the two plotted this year to sell U.S. plans "regarding potential military intervention with China," and met for roughly two hours near the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport over the weekend. He was arrested Saturday on his way to the airport, where prosecutors say he planned to board a flight to China.