By Brian Todd
Beijing (CNN) - An aide to a vice-minister in China's State Security Ministry has been detained, suspected of spying for the United States.
From deep inside Chinese intelligence comes word of a high-level breach. An aide to a vice-minister in China's State Security Ministry has been detained, suspected of spying for the United States.
That's according to the Reuters news agency, whose sources say the aide had passed information to U.S. officials for several years.
[Reporter]: "What do you think could have been compromised specifically?
"I think it's highly likely that, sitting in the position that he was, that he would have had access to ongoing Chinese intelligence operations in the United States," said Christopher Johnson with the Center for Strategic & International Studies.
Johnson, until recently a China analyst at the CIA, says the Chinese are probably trying to recover any of their compromised spies right now.
A source tells Reuters, the spy for the U.S. was recruited by the CIA, that he was paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in exchange for political, economic, and strategic intelligence, and that he was detained by the Chinese sometime between January and March.
[Reporter]: "What kind of head-rolling do you think we're seeing in Beijing now as a result of this?"
"I think that they would be looking at the State Security minister itself, the Vice Minister who apparently has already been put under detention and is being looked at. Then they would take whatever he would tell them in the course of that investigation and look to spread the net, to capture as many people as they could who might have been compromised in this way," said Johnson.
Contacted by CNN, no one at the CIA or other U.S. intelligence agencies would comment on the case.
No official comment from Chinese officials in Beijing or Washington.
But Johnson says word of this alleged spy's arrest could have been leaked by Chinese officials themselves. He says the Chinese government initially allowed websites to run the story and then censored it.
Why would the Chinese leak this? To send a signal to the Americans, Johnson says, that they've nailed this apparent spy.