Ma Jisheng, the Chinese ambassador to Iceland, and his wife Zhong Yue are said to have been arrested by China’s security authority earlier this year for allegedly spying for Japan, Mingjingnews.com reported, citing an unnamed official.
The charge of espionage was linked to his years as a ranking member of the country’s diplomatic team in Japan, the report said.
This is not the first time that a top Chinese envoy has been accused of spying for other countries. In 2007, the former ambassador to South Korea Li Bin was convicted spying for Seoul.
Ma was born in 1957 and holds a master’s degree in history. He served in the Chinese embassy in Japan as minister counsellor and counsellor between 2004 and 2008. Ma was named ambassador to Iceland in 2012.
Ma was arrested secretly after being recalled in January. A spokesperson for Iceland’s foreign affairs department told media that Beijing issued a notice in March that Ma would not return to the Nordic country but gave no explanation.
Rumors claimed that Ma had been executed but Beijing has not released any information about Ma’s case so far.
It’s not clear what state secrets Ma could have passed on to Tokyo. A source with knowledge of the matter said ambassadors usually have limited access to highly classified information, despite their high administrative position.
An official with the rank of a minister is now handling Ma’s previous duties at the Chinese embassy in Iceland, according to the spokesperson for Iceland’s foreign affairs department.
An unnamed secretary at the Chinese embassy refused to comment on Ma’s case, the report said.
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