China detains military group worker suspected of spying for CIA

FILE-Image of the agency seal on the floor of the lobby at the CIA, in Mclean, VA. (Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

China has detained a worker from a military-industrial group on suspicion of spying for the CIA, national security authorities said Friday, adding to the list of public accusations of espionage between Beijing and Washington.

The Ministry of State Security, the country’s civilian spy agency, said in a statement that a military-industrial worker surnamed Zeng had been providing military secrets to the CIA in exchange for large sums of money.

The 52-year-old suspect had been sent to Italy to study by his employer. There, he met "an official with the U.S. embassy," who later turned out to be a CIA agent, the ministry claimed.

"Zeng gradually developed a psychological dependence on (the U.S. official), who took the opportunity to indoctrinate him with Western values," the statement, posted on the ministry’s WeChat page, read.

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It added that the U.S. official promised the Chinese suspect large amounts of money and to help his family immigrate to the United States in exchange for sensitive information about China’s military, which the worker had access to through his job.

"Having finished overseas study, Zeng returned to China and continued to have multiple secret meetings with the CIA agents and provided a great amount of key intelligence and collected funds for spying," the ministry said.

It added that the suspect had been detained and the case was being further investigated.

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The announcement is the latest in a string of public accusations of espionage between Washington and Beijing.

Last week, the U.S. arrested two U.S. Navy sailors on accusations of providing military secrets to China.

Relations between China and the U.S. plunged to their lowest level in years after the U.S. earlier this year shot down a suspected Chinese spy balloon that had flown over U.S. territory.