US Navy Sailor Pleads Guilty to Accepting Bribes from Chinese Intelligence Officer

A US navy sailor, Petty Officer Wenheng “Thomas” Zhao, has admitted to accepting nearly $15,000 in bribes from a Chinese intelligence officer. In exchange, Zhao provided photographs of unclassified private US military information.

Quick Facts

  • Details of the Bribe: Zhao sent his Chinese contact plans for US military exercises in the Indo-Pacific, operational orders, and blueprints for a radar system on a US military base in Okinawa, Japan.
  • Arrest: Zhao, 26, was arrested in August and has pleaded guilty to conspiracy and receiving a bribe.
  • Another Arrest: Jinchao Wei, another navy sailor, was arrested on similar charges in August. Wei was charged with espionage involving a conspiracy to send national defense information to Chinese officials.

Zhao, who was stationed at Naval Base Ventura county in California, could face up to 20 years in prison for his actions. The final sentence will be determined by a judge. The US attorney Martin Estrada stated that Zhao had “betrayed his country and the men and women of the US navy by accepting bribes from a foreign adversary.” The US has long accused China of espionage and cyber-attacks, allegations that China has consistently denied.

Matthew G Olsen, the assistant attorney general of the justice department’s national security division, commented on the arrests, stating that both individuals had violated their commitments to protect the US. Olsen emphasized that their actions resulted in “sensitive military info ending up in the hands of the People’s Republic of China.”

Original article source: The Guardian

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