Former FBI Employee Sentenced In Manhattan Federal Court To 24 Months In Prison For Acting As An Agent Of China
Kun Shan Chun, a/k/a “Joey Chun,” Provided Sensitive FBI Information to the Chinese Government
Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Mary B. McCord, Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security, and William F. Sweeney Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), announced that Kun Shan Chun, a/k/a “Joey Chun,” was sentenced to serve 24 months in prison and pay a $10,000 fine based on his conviction for acting in the United States as an agent of the People’s Republic of China (“China”), without providing prior notice to the Attorney General. CHUN pled guilty on August 1, 2016. U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero imposed today’s sentence.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “Kun Shan Chun, an FBI employee, was supposed to work to protect and serve the American people. But instead, he acted as a secret agent of China. For that betrayal, Chun has now been sentenced to federal prison.”
FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William F. Sweeney Jr. said: “The FBI continues to be vigilant in an effort to warn American industries, businesses and institutions of the dangers posed by the insider threat. This investigation validates that we at the FBI are not immune to the threat of an insider. The FBI will continue to diligently protect its equities, and those of both our U.S. intelligence community partners and those in the private sector, from insiders looking to steal our information and use it against us.”
According to the Information filed against CHUN, other documents publicly filed in this case, and statements made during court proceedings, including today’s sentencing:
CHUN, a native of China and a naturalized citizen of the United States, began working at the FBI’s New York Field Office in approximately 1997 as an electronics technician assigned to the Computerized Central Monitoring Facility of the FBI’s Technical Branch. In approximately 1998, and in connection with his employment, the FBI granted CHUN a Top Secret security clearance, and his duties included accessing sensitive and, in some instances, classified information. As discussed in more detail below, in connection with a progressive recruitment process, CHUN received and responded to requests from Chinese nationals and at least one Chinese government official (“Chinese Official-1”), at least some of whom were aware that CHUN worked at the FBI.
On multiple occasions prior to his arrest in March 2016, while engaging in a prolonged and concerted effort to conceal from the FBI his illicit relationships with these individuals, CHUN disclosed to Chinese Official-1 – at minimum – information regarding the FBI’s personnel, structure, technological capabilities, general information regarding the FBI’s surveillance strategies, and certain categories of surveillance targets.
CHUN’s Purported Consulting for Zhuhai Kolion Technology Company Ltd.
Beginning in at least 2005, CHUN and certain of his relatives maintained relationships with Chinese nationals purporting to be affiliated with a company in China named Zhuhai Kolion Technology Company Ltd. (“Kolion”). CHUN maintained an indirect financial interest in Kolion, including through a previous investment by one of his relatives. In connection with these relationships, Chinese nationals asked CHUN to perform research and consulting tasks in the United States, purportedly for the benefit of Kolion, in exchange for financial benefits, including partial compensation for international trips as well as cash payments made to CHUN’s relative.
Between 2006 and 2010, CHUN’s communications and other evidence reflect inquiries to CHUN from purported employees of Kolion while CHUN was in the United States, as well as efforts by CHUN to collect, among other things, information regarding solid-state hard drives and printer cartridges.
CHUN’s Relationship with Chinese Official-1
CHUN was introduced to Chinese Official-1 in approximately 2007 and subsequently provided Chinese Official-1 with sensitive information from the FBI. During a trip to Italy and France in 2011, CHUN met with Chinese Official-1. Chinese Official-1 indicated that he worked for the Chinese government, and that he knew CHUN worked for the FBI. During subsequent private meetings conducted abroad between CHUN and Chinese Official-1, Chinese Official-1 asked questions about sensitive, nonpublic FBI information. During those meetings, CHUN disclosed, among other things, the identity and potential travel patterns of an FBI Special Agent.
In approximately 2012, the FBI conducted a routine investigation relating to CHUN’s Top Secret security clearance. In an effort to conceal his relationships with Chinese Official-1 and the other Chinese nationals purporting to be affiliated with Kolion, CHUN repeatedly lied on a standardized form related to the security clearance investigation. During the period between 2000 and CHUN’s termination, CHUN also reported to the FBI that he had traveled to the areas of Hong Kong and China approximately nine times, as well as additional trips to Canada, Thailand, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. CHUN was required by FBI policy to disclose anticipated and actual contact with foreign nationals during his international travel, but he lied on numerous pre- and post-trip FBI debriefing forms by omitting his contacts with Chinese Official-1, other Chinese nationals, and Kolion.
Examples of CHUN’s Actions in the United States in Response to Requests from Chinese Official-1
Chinese Official-1 asked CHUN on multiple occasions for information regarding the internal structure of the FBI. In response to those requests, in approximately March 2013, CHUN downloaded an FBI organizational chart from his FBI computer in Manhattan. CHUN later admitted to the FBI that, after editing the chart to remove the names of FBI personnel, he saved the document on a piece of digital media and caused it to be transported to Chinese Official-1 in China.
Chinese Official-1 also asked CHUN for information regarding technology used by the FBI. In approximately January 2015, CHUN took photographs of documents displayed in a restricted area of the FBI’s New York Field Office, which summarized sensitive details regarding multiple surveillance technologies used by the FBI. CHUN sent the photographs to his personal cell phone, and later admitted to the FBI that he caused the photographs to be transported to Chinese Official-1 in China.
CHUN’s Admissions to an FBI Undercover Employee
In about February 2015, the FBI caused an undercover employee (the “UCE”) to be introduced to CHUN. The UCE purported to be employed by an independent contractor.
During a March 2015 recorded meeting, CHUN told the UCE about his relationship with Kolion and Chinese nationals. In a subsequent recorded meeting in March 2015, CHUN explained to the UCE that Kolion had “government backing,” and that approximately five years earlier a relative met a “section chief” who CHUN believed was associated with the Chinese government.
In June 2015, during a recorded meeting, CHUN told the UCE that he had informed his Chinese associates that the UCE may be in a position to assist them. CHUN said that he wished to act as a “sub-consultant” to the UCE and wanted the UCE to “pay” him “a little bit.” In July 2015, after coordinating travel in an effort to introduce the UCE to CHUN’s Chinese associates, CHUN met with the UCE twice. During one of the meetings, CHUN stated that he knew “firsthand” that the Chinese government was actively recruiting individuals who could provide assistance, and that the Chinese government was willing to provide immigration benefits and other compensation in exchange for such assistance. The UCE told CHUN that he had access to sensitive information from the United States government. CHUN responded that his Chinese associates would be interested in that type of information, but that CHUN expected a “cut” of any payment that the UCE received for providing information to the Chinese government.
CHUN’s Arrest by the FBI and Confession
CHUN was arrested by the FBI on March 16, 2016. He subsequently confessed to most of the foregoing activities, including having taken steps to collect sensitive FBI information in the United States in response to taskings from Chinese Official-1. CHUN explained that he was motivated in part by the financial benefits that he and others derived from these relationships, but also admitted that he understood that he had provided assistance to the Chinese government.
The Seizure of Additional Sensitive FBI Information from CHUN’s Residence
The FBI searched CHUN’s residence pursuant to a search warrant around the time of his arrest. Agents found a .40 caliber handgun and an AR-15 rifle in CHUN’s basement, neither of which was registered in New York. The FBI also seized from CHUN’s residence a thumb drive that contained three files with sensitive FBI information dating back to approximately 2006 and 2007. CHUN’s job at the FBI did not require him to work from home, and there is no legitimate reason for him to have possessed these files at his residence. One file – which had a “date modified” of January 19, 2007 – was marked with a security header that read “FBI sensitive information for official use only.” The document described technical details of FBI surveillance infrastructure, including specific information about networks used to store highly sensitive, classified data. The second file contained information relating to ways in which FBI employees could access raw intelligence information, and it included network details and unique usernames for ten FBI employees. The third file – which had a “date modified” of July 20, 2007 – contained a spreadsheet dated June 2, 2006, that included names and telephone numbers of FBI personnel with jobs similar to CHUN’s position, as well as telephone numbers for lines that Electronics Technicians such as CHUN would have used to configure or troubleshoot network issues with the FBI’s New York Office.
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In addition to the prison sentence and fine, Judge Marrero also sentenced CHUN, 47, to one year of supervised release and to pay a $100 special assessment.
Mr. Bharara praised the outstanding investigative work of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division. Mr. Bharara also thanked the Counterintelligence and Export Control Section of the Department of Justice’s National Security Division.
The prosecution is being handled by the Office’s Terrorism and International Narcotics Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Emil J. Bove III and Andrea L. Surratt are in charge of the prosecution, with assistance from Trial Attorneys Thea D. R. Kendler and David C. Recker of the Counterintelligence and Export Control Section.