A Virginia man has been charged with transmitting top-secret documents to a Chinese agent.
Federal prosecutors say 60-year-old Kevin Mallory of Leesburg was arrested Thursday and made an initial appearance in federal court in Alexandria, Va.
The self-employed consultant who speaks Chinese is charged under the federal espionage act.
Prosecutor John Gibbs said at the hearing that he could ask for the death penalty if certain conditions are met.
Court records indicate that Mallory was an Army veteran and worked as a special agent for the Diplomatic Security Service at the U.S. State Department.
The records also show Mallory traveled to China this year and met with people he thought were associated with a Chinese think tank. Court documents indicate Mallory received $25,000 from individuals he thought were Chinese operatives.
(Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)