WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A former U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency officer pleaded guilty to attempted espionage for China, the Justice Department said on Friday.

The officer, Ron Rockwell Hansen, was accused of trying to transmit classified U.S. national defence information to China and receiving "hundreds of thousands of dollars" while illegally acting as an agent for the Chinese government.

Hansen started working at the DIA, which specializes in military intelligence, in 2006 after his retirement from the U.S. Army, and held a top-secret security clearance for many years, according to the Justice Department.

In 2014, a Chinese intelligence service recruited Hansen, the Justice Department said.

FBI agents took Hansen into custody in June, when he was travelling to the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport to take a connecting flight to China.

He faces up to 15 years in prison. His sentencing will take place on Sept. 24. It was not immediately clear who was representing Hansen in his case.

(Reporting by Makini Brice; Editing by Jonathan Oatis; and Alistair Bell)

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