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DOJ Alleges Navy Sailor Gave Secret Info To China In Exchange For Bribes


Two U.S. Navy sailors were arrested Wednesday on conspiracy charges linked to Chinese intelligence officials, with prosecutors claiming one of the defendants traded sensitive military information for thousands of dollars in bribes.

The two active-duty sailors were hit with conspiracy charges Thursday in two separate cases, with Assistant Attorney General Matt Olsen telling reporters at a press conference that the defendants actions resulted in “sensitive military info” ending up “in the hands of the People’s Republic of China,” according to Reuters.

One of the sailors, identified as 26-year-old Petty Officer Wenheng Zhao, was arrested Wednesday and accused of providing a Chinese intelligence officer with naval operation plans, radar system blueprints and security details of Naval Base Ventura County—an installation located just north of Los Angeles.

Prosecutors allege Zhao, who served as a construction electrician and had “Secret” level security clearance, provided the information for at least $14,866 in bribes from the Chinese officer, transactions dated from approximately November 1, 2021 to March 28, 2023.

Jinchao Wei, the other sailor who worked on an amphibious assault ship, the U.S.S. Essex, was arrested Wednesday as he arrived for work at Naval Base San Diego and has been charged with conspiracy to send national defense information to a Chinese intelligence officer.

Wei allegedly provided the officer with information about the U.S.S. Essex and other Navy ships, including more than 50 technical and mechanical manuals on ship systems and weapons, with the indictment alleging Wei was paid $5,000 for some of the manuals.

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Prosecutors also accused Wei of sharing information on details regarding an upcoming Marine exercise.


“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,” Suzanne Turner, the FBI Counterintelligence Division’s assistant director, said in a statement, adding the information allegedly shared by the defendants “could seriously jeopardize U.S. national security.”


Zhao will be arraigned in Los Angeles on Thursday while Wei will be arraigned at 5 p.m. EST, according to an email from the DOJ.


The counts levied against Zhao and Wei mark the latest allegation by U.S. authorities of spying by China. In July, U.S. Ambassador to China Nicholas Burns, alongside other State Department officials, had his email hacked as part of a larger spy attack which was estimated to have breached hundreds of thousands of individual U.S. government emails. China denied U.S. government claims that it perpetrated a large-scale hack. In April, the Department of Justice alleged Chinese agents opened an undeclared “police station” in New York City to “silence and harass” dissidents. Two individuals were arrested and charged with conspiracy and obstruction of justice in connection with the scheme. The DOJ has also accused an ex-Apple employee of stealing information about the tech company’s autonomous vehicle technology “in order to market it to Chinese competitors.”


Naval Base Ventura County, which Zhao allegedly shared security information on, is located near a sea range that has supported developmental tests, operational tests and evaluations of missiles, free-fall weapons and electronic warfare systems, according to prosecutors. Prosecutors also alleged Zhao shared photos and videos of restricted areas on San Clemente Island, which was used by the Navy for the research and development of “many of the Navy’s weapons systems,” according to the indictment.

Source : Forbes