August 16, 2011:
In South Korea, a former Air Force Chief of Staff, along with a colonel and NCO that worked for him, were recently arrested and charged with espionage. The three had sold the information to American defense manufacturer Lockheed-Martin for over $2 million. Three Lockheed-Martin employees have been called in for questioning. The three accused South Koreans, although retired, obtained defense information from former associates. The Americans insist that they were unaware the information was classified. That will be difficult to defend in court under expert questioning.
The three South Koreans ran a weapons brokerage firm and did consulting. That’s where Lockheed-Martin became a customer. This case has caused an uproar in South Korea because it is just another of several incidents were senior officers were sloppy with classified information. In a case like this, the “spies” tend to justify their work by insisting no harm was done. After all, the United States is a long-term ally of South Korea. But the fact that these secrets are now out there, and in the hands of civilians who believe the stuff is not secret, means the information is more likely to end up in the hands of potential foes (like North Korea). Moreover, South Korea is trying to build up its weapons industries and their arms exports. This makes espionage paid for by a major American defense company a major crime.