US Navy sailors in California have been arrested on charges of providing sensitive military information to China
Wenheng Zhao, a 26-year-old petty officer, was arrested for extorting money from sensitive photos and videos.
Also Jinchao Wei, 22, of the U.S. citizen accused of conspiring to provide national security information to a Chinese agent.
It is unclear whether the two were allegedly contacted by the same Chinese agent.
Both men were arrested in California on Wednesday, while Mr. Wei was on his way to work at Naval Base San Diego.
Prosecutors announced the charges at a news conference in San Diego on Wednesday.
Mr. Wei, who worked as an engineer’s mate on the USS Essex, held a security clearance and had sensitive information about the ship.
He was reportedly visited by a Chinese agent in February 2022 as he went through the process of becoming an American citizen.
The agent paid Mr. Wei, who also goes by the name Patrick Wei, thousands of dollars for ship photos, videos, technical manuals and drawings, according to the indictment.
Justice Department officials said Mr. Wei had also filed a U.S. petition. provided the ambassador with details of troops conducting naval training exercises.
U.S attorney Randy Grossman saids When a soldier or sailor chooses money over country and gives away national security information in the ultimate treason, we have to be ready to act.
China has so far denied knowledge of the alleged operation.
Liu Pengyu, a spokesman for the Chinese embassy in Washington, was quoted by the Wall Street Journal as saying: “U.S. the government and the media have been widely publicizing false news about China.”
He added that China opposes baseless insults and insults against China by the US. the aspect brings it sharply.
Mr. Zhao, who also goes by the name Thomas Zhao, worked in Ventura County at a naval base near Los Angeles. In 2021, he was reportedly visited by a Chinese agent posing as an analyst seeking information to make investment decisions.
Officials said the agent paid Zhao about $15,000 (£11,800) for a surveillance video containing images and images from a radar system in the US. contains a military base in Okinawa, Japan
If convicted, Mr. Wei faces up to 20 years to life in prison, while the charges against Mr. Zhao could carry up to 20 years
Both men were charged in separate cases.
Officials described the work as a concerted Chinese effort to obtain U.S. intelligence. part of the military mystery.
A Chinese spy trap hanging over the United States earlier this year soured relations between the two countries, although American officials later said it did not gather any sensitive intelligence.
Assistant Attorney General Matthew Olsen said the department of Justice will continue to use every tool in our arsenal to curb threats from China and deter those who help them violate our laws and threaten our national security .