A naturalized American from Taiwan, Dr. Peter Lee had worked as a laser expert at Los Alamos National Laboratory and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory before joining the defense contractor TRWto work on a classified antisubmarine project for the U.S. Navy. In January 1985 Lee visited Beijing, having been invited to lecture at the People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) Institute of Applied Physics and Computational Mathematics (IAPCM).
Peter Lee (code-named ROYAL TOURIST) under interrogation admitted that he had met Chen Nengkuan, the leader of the PRC’s nuclear weapons program at the China Academy of Engineering Physics, in his hotel room. Lee had made several trips to Beijing and in a plea bargain with the prosecution in March 1998 admitted to having compromised classified information in return for a fine of $20,000 and a year in a halfway house.
Lee was only slightly connected to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s investigation code-named KINDRED SPIRIT, which focused on Wen Ho Lee, a friend of Peter Lee’s who was also originally from Taiwan.