US Naval Officer Sentenced to Prison for Sharing Military Secrets with China

Wenheng Zhao, 26, Receives Over Two Years in Jail for Betraying Oath, Providing Sensitive Information to Chinese Intelligence.

A US naval officer, Wenheng Zhao, has been sentenced to more than two years in prison for pleading guilty to sharing sensitive military information with a Chinese intelligence officer, as confirmed by the US justice department on Monday. Zhao, aged 26, along with fellow sailor Jinchao Wei, was arrested in August on charges of espionage for China.

Zhao, stationed at a naval base north of Los Angeles, admitted his guilt in a federal court in California in October. The charges included conspiring with a foreign intelligence officer and accepting a bribe. The sentencing, delivered on Monday, entails 27 months in prison and a $5,500 fine for Zhao.

US officials revealed that Zhao received approximately $15,000 from the Chinese intelligence officer between August 2021 and May 2023. In exchange for the funds, he divulged sensitive information concerning US Navy operational security, exercises, and critical infrastructure. Among the disclosed details were insights into a significant maritime training exercise in the Pacific and the provision of electrical diagrams and blueprints for a radar system in Okinawa, Japan.

Assistant Attorney General Matthew Olsen stated, “Mr. Zhao betrayed his solemn oath to defend his country and endangered those who serve in the US military.” Olsen affirmed the justice department’s commitment to combating the Chinese government’s attempts to undermine national security and holding accountable those who violate laws in pursuit of such objectives.

Jinchao Wei, associated with the amphibious assault ship USS Essex, faces allegations of providing China with numerous documents, photos, and videos detailing the operation of ships and their systems.

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