A US Navy work personnel pleaded blameworthy yesterday to receiving thousands of dollars successful bribes from a Chinese spymaster successful speech for passing connected American subject secrets.
Petty Officer Wenheng Zhao, 26, aka Thomas Zhao, of Monterey Park, California, now faces up to 20 years successful situation for 2 national felony offenses: colluding pinch a People's Republic of China (PRC) intelligence officer, and receiving a bribe. Sentencing is scheduled for January 8.
According to nan US Justice Department and tribunal documents [PDF], Zhao worked astatine Naval Base Ventura County, located successful Port Hueneme, California, and held a US information clearance that gave him entree to worldly up to and including "secret" data.
The naval guidelines supported improvement and operational testing of missiles, physics warfare systems, and different weapons, and Zhao's duties included protecting accusation related to nan Navy's operational security.
In tribunal connected Tuesday, Zhao admitted to receiving astatine slightest $14,866 successful astatine slightest 14 abstracted bribes from a PRC spymaster betwixt August 2021 and May 2023.
In speech for these illicit payments, Zhao illegally collected and transmitted to a Chinese handler non-public accusation astir US Navy operational security, subject training and exercises, and captious infrastructure.
Specifically, Zhao handed complete plans for a large-scale maritime training workout successful nan Pacific theater. He besides confessed to trading operational orders, electrical diagrams, and blueprints for a radar strategy successful Okinawa, Japan, successful speech for cash.
Additionally, Zhao fessed up to utilizing encrypted connection methods to transmit nan subject info to nan Chinese spy, and past destroyed nan grounds to hide his narration pinch nan overseas intelligence officer.
- Two US Navy sailors charged pinch giving Chinese spies concealed subject info
- DoJ: Ex-soldier tried to walk secrets to China aft seeking a 'subreddit astir spy stuff'
- China uses Alibaba's Euro logistic hub to spy connected stuff, Belgian intelligence fears
- Routers person been rooted by Chinese spies, US and Japan warn
Zhao was arrested on pinch different Navy work personnel connected August 3, and has been successful custody since then. The 2nd sailor, Jinchao Wei, aka Patrick Wei, was charged pinch spying-related crimes astatine a abstracted naval guidelines successful San Diego, California.
According to US prosecutors astatine Wei's August proceeding successful confederate California, Wei allegedly told a chap work personnel that Beijing was recruiting him for what he called "quite evidently fucking espionage."
Apparently this was besides evident to Zhao, and successful a statement announcing his blameworthy plea, executive adjunct head Larissa Knapp of nan FBI's National Security Branch called it "an acknowledgement of nan betrayal successful trading delicate subject accusation to nan Government of China."
Late past week, a erstwhile US Army sergeant was arrested and charged pinch 2 national felonies related to trading secrets to China aft allegedly creating a Word archive pinch nan wholly non-suspicious title of "Important Information to Share pinch Chinese Government." ®