Two U.S. Navy Sailors Arrested for Sharing Military Information with China
Two U.S. Navy servicemembers have been arrested for transmitting sensitive military information to the People’s Republic of China (PRC), the U.S. Justice Department announced Thursday.
Prosecutors said the arrests highlight the aggressive efforts of the PRC to undermine U.S. national security and the importance of countering threats from China.
One case involved a sailor stationed at Naval Base San Diego, named Jinchao Wei, who allegedly sent photographs, videos, and manuals of the USS Essex and other Navy ships to a Chinese intelligence officer in exchange for payment. Wei was arrested Wednesday on espionage charges as he arrived for work at Naval Base San Diego, the homeport of the Pacific Fleet.
The second sailor, Petty Officer Wenheng Zhao, was stationed at Naval Base Ventura County and stands accused of receiving bribes from a Chinese intelligence officer in exchange for transmitting non-public sensitive U.S. military information, including details related to a large-scale U.S. military exercise in the Indo-Pacific Region. The indictment further alleges that, in exchange for bribes, Zhao photographed electrical diagrams and blueprints for a radar system stationed on a U.S. military base in Okinawa, Japan.
Zhao was arrested following an indictment by a federal grand jury and faces 20 years in prison if convicted.
“These arrests are a reminder of the relentless, aggressive efforts of the People’s Republic of China to undermine our democracy and threaten those who defend it,” said Assistant Director Suzanne Turner of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division. “The PRC compromised enlisted personnel to secure sensitive military information that could seriously jeopardize U.S. national security. The FBI and our partners remain vigilant in our determination to combat espionage, and encourage past and present government officials to report any suspicious interactions with suspected foreign intelligence officers.”
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