Speed Reads

informants

China reportedly killed and imprisoned as many as 20 CIA sources

The Chinese government killed or imprisoned 18 to 20 informants working with the CIA between 2010 and 2012, The New York Times reported Saturday, citing two former senior U.S. officials who remained unnamed. The CIA declined to comment for the Times story.

Five years later, it is still not certain how the sources were identified, only that their grim fates significantly crippled American intelligence efforts in China. Some in the intelligence community suspect a mole, the Times reported, while others believe Chinese hackers could have breached CIA systems.

The ambiguity is "really troubling," Times journalist Matt Apuzzo told the BBC, but whatever the breach was, it seems to have ended by 2013. "For many years China and the U.S. have been locked in this spy battle that's been going on behind the scenes," Apuzzo added. "It goes back and forth."