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Cheap Reads or State Secrets? Elderly Shopper’s $1 Find Turns Into Espionage Drama

Daniel Kim Views  

Yonhap News Agency

An elderly man in China recently discovered that four secondhand books he bought for around 89 cents contained military secrets.

On June 13, the Ministry of State Security (China) posted a “Secrets and 6 Yuan” message on its WeChat account.

According to the post, a retiree from a state-owned company identified as Zhang, stumbled upon two snake-skin bags full of paper books at a junk shop one day while taking a walk in his neighborhood.

Zhang, a military enthusiast, selected four books and paid the shop owner about $0.89 for them.

Upon returning home and inspecting the books, Zhang became suspicious. The book covers had the words classified and secret on them.

Realizing he may have inadvertently purchased state secrets, he immediately contacted the counterintelligence agency and sent them the books.

After receiving the report, the counterintelligence officials and police arrived on the scene, retrieved and disposed of all classified materials, and conducted an investigation and education session with the junk shop owner.

The investigation revealed that the secret agents from a military unit identified as Guo and Li, had violated the disposal procedure and sold eight sets of classified documents, totaling over 200 books, as junk. They sold about 66 pounds of classified documents for about 12 cents per pound, earning approximately $3.

The Ministry of State Security (China) did not disclose when the incident occurred or what punishment the two individuals received. However, the Associated Press reported that determining what is classified as a state secret in China is often difficult.

Daniel Kim
content@viewusglobal.com

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