Caught with a bag of cash and an electronic device used to communicate with his handlers, a former government official with years of military and intelligence experience is accused of spying for China.
[Kevin] Mallory allegedly provided several classified government documents to a Chinese contact, who initially claimed affiliation with a prestigious Chinese think tank, in exchange for cash.
A Chinese handler posing as an employee of the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences (SASS) made contact with Mallory during trips to China in March and April.
The SASS is a reputable and internationally known think tank. But it also maintains a close working relationship with the Shanghai State Security Bureau, a regional office of the Ministry of State Security, China's intelligence arm.
Chinese think tanks, including SASS, often work closely with the Ministry of State Security. China's spy arm prefers to meet sources inside China, and social science academics provide a useful front for intelligence and influence operations.
Some intelligence-linked Chinese think tanks also maintain a known presence in Washington. One of those is the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations. The institute actively engages in the Washington think tank ecosystem and also invites US officials and academics for events in Beijing. The Center for Strategic and International Studies...has co-hosted numerous cybersecurity dialogues with the Chinese institute in recent years.
For more than two decades, the institute has sent a fellow to Washington, who stays for a year or two...
The Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences (SASS) is ranked as the 35th best think tank among the countries of China, India, Japan, and South Korea, according to the latest University of Pennsylvania think tank rankings.
Think tanks in both the US and overseas are popular with spies, and a large number of spies are housed within policy shops while others are trying to spy on think tanks (and scholars) themselves.
In related news, Bill Gertz of The Free Beacon just reported that the Chinese spy network in the US may include 25,000 spies.