Code-named PARLOR MAID by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Leung allegedly in 1997 removed and copied a secret document from the briefcase of her FBI handler, “J. J.” Smith. When her home was searched in 2002, a transcript of a telephone conversation with her Chinese contact was discovered. Although neither Leung nor Smith was charged with espionage, the case demonstrated that the FBI had been active in the field over a long period.
Born Che Wen Ling in Guangzhou, Leung had been brought up in Hong Kong by her aunt, Susan Chin. She had met her husband Kam, who was working on his doctorate in biochemistry at Cornell University, where she had studied engineering as a graduate student before switching to economics. Apparently her first contact with People’s Republic of China officials occurred in New York in 1972, when Kam had worked as a volunteer at the Chinese mission to the United Nations.
Leung ran her own business consulting firm in California and was a director of the Los Angeles World Affairs Council, as well as being a major Republican party campaign contributor. She also made 71 overseas trips during the 20 years she worked as an agent for the Bureau, but failed to declare 15 of them. On those trips she is alleged to have been in contact with Ministry of State Security (MSS) officers on 2,100 occasions and was given a gift of $100,000 by the PRC president, Yang Chankung.
Smith, who met her for trysts in London, Hawaii, and Hong Kong, is said to have found out that Leung was copying the classified material from his briefcase, and he also discovered in 1991 that Leung had been reporting to an MSS case officer in Beijing and was probably a double agent for the MSS, if not a triple agent, yet he apparently continued to provide Leung access to the secret information anyway.
When questions were raised by analysts at FBI headquarters about Leung, Smith declared, untruthfully, that she had taken a polygraph test and passed it. Indeed, Smith filed no less than 19 evaluation reports describing Leung as “reliable.” When challenged by the FBI, Smith denied having had an affair with the attractive Leung, only to be contradicted by tapes that recorded the pair together in a hotel.
Leung was also involved with another former FBI agent, William Cleveland Jr., who was the head of security at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory nuclear weapons research facility in California. When Cleveland was interrogated about this relationship, he lied, and it was not until his fourth interview that he admitted that he had had a sexual relationship with Leung from 1988 until he retired in 1993 and that he resumed the sexual contacts in 1997 and 1999. He, too, continued the sexual relationship even after he discovered that Leung had unauthorized contact in 1991 with the MSS intelligence service.
Leung was well connected in Beijing, and the Indonesian Chinese tycoon Ted Sioeng, whose family was investigated by the FBI for illegal donations to the Democratic party, was a friend. She had business-related contacts with companies such as Northern Telecom (Canada). Apparently Smith made little effort to conceal his relationship with Leung, and she accompanied him to his retirement party, which she videotaped, and also to President George W. Bush’s inaugural parade in Washington, D.C. She lectured classes at the FBI’s training academy at Quantico, Virginia, on the management of double agents.