Page last updated at 19:05 GMT, Friday, 22 January 2010

Ex-Pentagon official jailed for spying for China

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James Fondren had access to classified defence documents

A former Pentagon official has been sentenced to three years in prison for passing classified information to a Chinese spy.

James Fondren, 62, provided "certain classified defence department documents and other information" to a friend, who turned out to be a Chinese spy.

The judge said the information passed on caused little or no harm to US national security.

Fondren, a retired US Air Force lieutenant colonel, is appealing.

His lawyer argued that Fondren did not know that Tai Shen Kuo, a naturalised US citizen from Taiwan, was a spy.

But prosecutors say that "Fondren was aware that Kuo had maintained a close relationship with an official of the People's Republic of China".

Fondren is the former deputy director of the US Pacific Command's Washington Liaison Office, a position which reportedly afforded him "top secret" security clearance.

The sentence comes at a time of heightened tension between the two countries, with Beijing warning on Friday that Washington's criticism of its internet controls could harm ties between the two countries.

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