Wenheng Zhao, 26 aUS sailor, is found guilty of providing sensitive military information to a Chinese intelligence officer and was sentenced for 27 months.
Zhao admitted guilt in a federal court in California last October, confessing to charges of collaborating with a foreign intelligence officer and taking a bribe.
He received a 27-month prison sentence and a $5,500 fine on Monday. US officials disclosed that Zhao, stationed at a naval base north of Los Angeles, received close to $15,000 from the Chinese intelligence officer between August 2021 and May 2023.
In return, he provided sensitive details pertaining to US Navy operational security, exercises, and crucial infrastructure.
Zhao specifically shared details regarding a significant maritime training exercise in the Pacific and supplied electrical diagrams and blueprints for a radar system situated in Okinawa, Japan.
“Mr. Zhao betrayed his solemn oath to defend his country and endangered those who serve in the U.S. military,” said Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.
“Today, he is being held to account for those crimes. The Justice Department is committed to combating the Chinese government’s efforts to undermine our nation’s security and holding accountable those who violate our laws as part of those efforts,” he added.
“Zhao betrayed his country and disgraced himself when he accepted bribes from an intelligence officer with the People’s Republic of China,” said U.S. Attorney Martin Estrada for the Central District of California.
“As a result, he has now been removed from the military and will serve time in federal prison. Today’s sentence shows that my office will swiftly act to root out and punish those who seek to undermine our nation’s security,” he added.
The investigation was carried out by the FBI’s Counterintelligence and Cyber Division in Los Angeles along with NCIS, and significant support was provided by IRS-Criminal Investigation.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Annamartine Salick, Sarah Gerdes, Christine Ro, and Kathrynne Seiden for the Central District of California. Additionally, Assistant U.S. Attorney Ryan Waters from the Central District of California and Trial Attorney Adam Barry from the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section offered valuable support.
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