Conspirator unveiled: Ex-democracy activist spies US for China

Published (HKT): 2020.08.25 13:43

Former activist David Ma, who has voiced support for Hong Kong protesters in 2014, may be the “co-conspirator” who worked with former CIA officer Alexander Ma on providing U.S. classified information to China.

Alexander Ma was arrested on Aug. 14. The 67-year-old was alleged to have worked with a relative who was a former intelligence officer (identified as “Co-conspirator #1”), to provide top secret intelligence to handlers with China’s Ministry of State Secretary.

The spy exchange began in 2001 and lasted for more than a decade, U.S. Justice Department officials announced last Monday.

According to court documents, Co-conspirator #1 had access to “top secrets” when he worked for the CIA. Together with Alexander Ma, he met with Chinese handlers in a Hong Kong hotel in 2001 to provide secrets and were given US$50,000 cash in return.

Court documents also said that he has been told to identify five CIA spies, and has visited Yunnan to meet with China’s Ministry of State Security personnel.

The unnamed 85-year-old was not pursued because of his cognitive disease, but documents said that he was born in Shanghai and joined the CIA in 1967.

The person was frequently assigned to station aboard between 1971 to 1982, before resigning from his position in 1983 and moving back to Los Angeles.

Apple Daily found a Facebook account that might belong to Alexander Ma and found that the background of David Ma, one of his relatives, matched that of Co-conspirator #1.

Information on the internet and his self-introduction wrote that David Ma was also born in Shanghai in 1934. He migrated to Hong Kong with his family in 1950 and moved to Hawaii on his own in 1957.

Rather active in Chinese community in the U.S., Ma has established several political organizations and interest groups.

Ma said he was invited to work for the U.S. Department of State upon graduation and had been assigned to station in the U.S. Consulate in Myanmar, Tokyo and Hong Kong – which echoed the descriptions given by court documents.

Court documents also mentioned that Co-conspirator #1 was prosecuted for providing false statements to lending institutions in 1998. A record of the District Court for the Central District of California showed that a person named “David Ma” was prosecuted for the same charge in the same year and was imprisoned for five months.

Alexander Ma told an FBI undercover who pretended to be a Chinese handler that the Chinese government considered David Ma a threat, as he was a member of an anti-Chinese Communist Party organization.

David Ma was said to be a member of the pro-democracy Federation for a Democratic China and has taken part in establishing the Overseas Chinese Democracy Coalition together with prominent dissident Wei Jingsheng.

Wei said he has not contacted Ma for more than a decade and Ma had left the Coalition in 2003. He was not surprised by the case, given that the presence of CCP spies among activists was nothing new.

David Ma has voiced support for Hong Kong in 2014, expressing his respect for Hongkongers who protested for democracy peacefully during the Umbrella Movement.

Social media accounts of Ma’s family showed that Ma has been suffering from dementia in recent years, a condition that corresponded with court documents.

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