April 23, 2024
Naval Base Ventura County. Photograph credit score: cnrsw.cnic.navy.mi

A U.S. Navy sailor obtained a 27-month sentence on Monday for accepting practically $15,000 in bribes from a Chinese language intelligence officer in alternate for images of unclassified personal U.S. navy info.

Petty Officer Wenheng “Thomas” Zhao, 26, pleaded responsible final October to conspiracy and receiving a bribe. Zhao, who had confronted a most of 20 years in jail, was additionally fined $5,500, the U.S. justice division mentioned in an announcement.

Zhao, who labored at Naval Base Ventura County, admitted sending his Chinese language handler plans for U.S. navy workout routines within the Indo-Pacific area, operational orders and electrical diagrams and blueprints for a radar system on a U.S. navy base in Okinawa, Japan.

“Zhao selected to betray the oath he took to our nation and put others in danger,” mentioned Larissa Knapp, govt assistant director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Nationwide Safety Department.

“At this time’s sentencing demonstrates, but once more, the lack of China’s intelligence companies to forestall the FBI and our important companions from apprehending and prosecuting the spies China recruits,” she mentioned in an announcement.

Zhao’s arrest final summer season coincided with that of Jinchao Wei, 22, also referred to as Patrick Wei, at Naval Base San Diego. Wei can be suspected of accepting bribes in alternate for info regarding “the protection and weapon capabilities of U.S. Navy ships.”

The U.S. has accused China of an in depth marketing campaign of espionage and cyberattacks, a cost that Beijing rejects.

On Tuesday, the Chinese language international ministry mentioned it was unaware of the main points.

“I’m not conscious of the specifics, however I’d word that high-level U.S. intelligence officers mentioned they made progress in rebuilding their spy community in China,” mentioned Mao Ning, a international ministry spokesperson, at a daily information convention.

“America on the one hand repeatedly disseminates false details about so-called Chinese language spies, and but then again brazenly declares it needs to launch large-scale espionage actions in opposition to China. This can be a double normal.”

Lately, bilateral relations have grown tense over a variety of points together with nationwide safety, commerce curbs, COVID-19 and Taiwan.

However a summit in San Francisco in November between Chinese language President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Joe Biden was broadly seen to have helped cool tensions.

“China-U.S. relations noticed excessive issue at first of 2023,” Chinese language Overseas Minister Wang Yi mentioned on Tuesday at a symposium in Beijing.

“After arduous efforts, either side restructured communication and dialogue, and bilateral relations have been in a position to cease worsening and to stabilise.”

(Reporting by David Ljunggren; further reporting by Andrew Hayley in Beijing; enhancing by Caitlin Webber, Invoice Berkrot and Barbara Lewis)