[Under President Xi Jinping,
has sought to rally the public behind the
cause of catching foreign and domestic spies. Last week, China celebrated its first National Security Education
Day, and security officials have established an anti-spying hotline.] China
By Javier C. Hernández
The man, Huang Yu, 41, worked for a research institute specializing in cryptography in
, a city in southwestern Chengdu . He sold the materials, which included
military codes, from 2002 to 2011, making about $700,000, the state-run
broadcaster China Central Television reported. The government did not specify
which spy agencies he had assisted. China
Mr. Huang’s death sentence was the first known case of a Chinese citizen’s receiving the death penalty for espionage since 2008, when the governmentexecuted a biomedical researcher and a distant relative of his, accusing them of passing secrets to Taiwan.
The trove of information Mr. Huang is accused of selling, including 90 top-secret documents, is one of the largest known leaks in
in recent years, national security experts
Under President Xi Jinping,
has sought to rally the public behind the
cause of catching foreign and domestic spies. Last week, China celebrated its first National Security
Education Day, and security officials have established an anti-spying hotline. China
In 2014, Mr. Xi signed a counterespionage law to more extensively track foreign spies and Chinese citizens who assist them. Last year, the government approved a sweeping national security law, broadening the definition of what constituted a violation.
The publicity given to Mr. Huang’s case reflected Mr. Xi’s determination to highlight the threats posed by foreign entities and the government’s tough approach to issues of national security, analysts said.
“The authorities are, in this way, advertising the fact that there is severe punishment available for crimes against national security,” said Eva Pils, a legal scholar at King’s College London. “I would read this as intending to produce a kind of warning effect.”
Cases of espionage have received wide attention in
recently. In January, officials announced
that they were prosecuting a Canadian manwho ran a cafe near the border with China on charges of spying and stealing state
secrets. Last year, North Korea detained four Japanese citizens on suspicion
of espionage. China
As part of National Security Education Day on Friday,
officials hung posters at government offices
warning about the risks of romantic relationships with foreigners, according to
The Associated Press. The posters, titled “Dangerous Love,” told the story of
how a spy named David, posing as a visiting scholar, seduced a young propaganda
worker and persuaded her to give him secret documents. Beijing
The details of Mr. Huang’s case were revealed in a 15-minute special report on CCTV, which portrayed him as a disgruntled employee who contacted foreign spy agencies online in hopes of getting rich.
Mimicking the style of several recent televised confessions that the ruling Communist Party has used as a propaganda tool, the report showed Mr. Huang in shackles and an orange vest, shuffling down a dark hallway. In an interview with CCTV, he recounted how he arranged meetings in
with foreign spy agencies and stole materials from his wife and brother-in-law,
who also handled classified information in their work.
“If there are other people who see me and they are doing similar things — betraying their country — I hope they’ll report themselves to the national security people,” he said in the interview. “That’s good for their family and themselves, and it will lead to a better outcome.”
Mr. Huang was arrested in 2011, and it was unclear why the authorities waited until now to publicize the case. His wife was sentenced to five years in prison, and his brother-in-law was sentenced to three years in prison, the state media reports said. They were both accused of negligent disclosure of state secrets.
The government’s decision to sentence Mr. Huang to death drew criticism from human rights groups.
is believed to execute more people each year
than the rest of the world combined, though the government does not release
official statistics. China
pursued the death penalty for two citizens
in 2008, accusing them of spying for China , the Bush administration and European
diplomats forcefully denounced the decision. Taiwan
On Wednesday, the American Embassy in
said it was aware of Mr. Huang’s case but
referred a reporter to the Chinese authorities for comment. Officials at the
European Union and the United Nations did not respond to requests for comment. Beijing
While China has sought to gradually reduce its use of capital punishment in recent years, advocates have criticized officials for resorting to it even in cases of nonviolent crime, like corruption and drug trafficking.
William Nee, a researcher for Amnesty International in
Hong Kong, called the decision to execute Mr. Huang a
“deplorable reversal of the general trend.”
In an email, Mr. Nee said the government’s campaign against spying would fuel distrust in Chinese society.“This idea of spies being everywhere, common to
in the Mao era, to some extent, is now
helping to increase paranoia and suspicion in society, and even greater
xenophobia,” he said. China
Follow Javier C. Hernández on Twitter @HernandezJavier.
Yufan Huang and Zhang Tiantian contributed research.