Ex-CIA Officer Accused of Espionage For China Claims Memory Issues
© AP Photo / Carolyn KasterThis April 13, 2016 file photo shows the seal of the Central Intelligence Agency at CIA headquarters in Langley, Va. James Pars, a CIA intelligence officer, says his career was derailed after he complained that his boss at a base in a conflict zone repeatedly ordered personnel to travel through dangerous areas on non-essential trips to shop and buy food
© AP Photo / Carolyn Kaster
Former CIA officer Alexander Yuk Ching Ma was arrested in August 2020 on espionage charges, and is now facing a life sentence for allegedly conspiring with a relative to leak classified defense information to China.
Ex-CIA officer Alexander Yuk Ching Ma has asked for a mental competency evaluation after telling his attorney that he believes he is suffering from the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, the Associated Press reported, citing court documents.
Birney Bervar, his court-appointed lawyer, said that he felt compelled to file a motion with a request for a mental competency evaluation after meeting his client.
"Ma said he just can't remember things and that he believes it impairs his ability to assist properly in his defense,'' the motion said, cited by The AP.
The filing revealed that Ma's older brother, who is alleged to be his co-conspirator in spying for China, is completely disabled by the disease. Prosecutors did not charge the brother due to his incapacity.
Ma, who worked for the CIA from 1982 to 1989, is charged with a "conspiracy to communicate national defense information to aid a foreign government", in this case, the People's Republic of China (PRC).
According to prosecutors, Ma confirmed his actions during a meeting with an undercover FBI agent who pretended to be a Beijing intelligence official, with Ma reportedly accepting $2,000 in cash for the information. Ma was arrested in August 2020 and a hearing is scheduled for 12 August. If found guilty, the ex CIA officer could spend the rest of his life behind bars.