The lawyer for a former CIA officer and Hong Kong resident accused of stashing away classified records is defending his client against accusations he spied for China.
Jerry Lee Chun-shing, 53, made an initial appearance in a federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, following his arrest last month at New York's JFK International Airport.
"Mr Lee is not a Chinese spy," said lawyer Edward MacMahon after his client made a brief appearance.
"He's a loyal American who loves his country," MacMahon added, saying Lee served in the US military and the Central Intelligence Agency.
Lee is charged with illegally retaining classified documents, including names and numbers of covert CIA employees and locations of secret facilities.
But some media cited sources suggesting Lee's actions went much deeper - that he was in fact a mole responsible for exposing a network of US assets working in China.
Asked about those reports, MacMahon said: "You'd have to ask the people who make those claims and don't put their names behind them."
Lee served in the CIA from 1994 to 2007 as a case officer, worked in various overseas offices and was trained among other things in surveillance detection, recruiting and handling people and classified material.
A court affidavit states that in 2012 after Lee had left the CIA he went from Hong Kong with his family to northern Virginia, where he lived until 2013. When he flew to Virginia the FBI obtained a warrant to search Lee's luggage and hotel room.
Agents found two small books with handwritten notes containing names and numbers of covert CIA employees and locations of facilities.
At the hearing lasting a few minutes a judge ordered Lee to be kept in custody pending an appearance on March 19.