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China Arrests Ex-Security Chief For Corruption, Leaking Secrets

FILE - Zhou Yongkang, former Chinese Communist Party Politburo Standing Committee member in charge of security, Nov. 14, 2012.

Chinese authorities have arrested former domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang and expelled him from the ruling Communist Party, accusing him of crimes ranging from accepting bribes to leaking state secrets, the official Xinhua news agency said on Saturday.

In a statement released by Xinhua at midnight, the party's top leadership group, the Politburo Standing Committee, said Zhou's case had been handed over to judicial authorities, setting the stage for his trial.

Zhou, 71, is one of more than 50 high-ranking officials to face charges since President Xi Jinping rose to power two years ago and began a crackdown on corruption. Zhou is the highest-level official to be prosecuted since 1981, when the late Mao Zedong's wife and other members of the "Gang of Four" were accused of treason for their persecution of political opponents during China's 1966-76 Cultural Revolution.

Zhou, who had been under investigation since July, was in charge of China's massive domestic security apparatus before his retirement in 2012. Xinhua said investigators found that he had "abused his power to help relatives, mistresses and friends make huge profits from operating businesses, resulting in serious losses of state-owned assets."

Xinhua said investigators also found that Zhou had "leaked the party's and country's secrets ... seriously violated self-disciplinary regulations and accepted a large amount of money and properties personally and through his family."

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