Tuesday, January 30, 2024

US Navy sailor sentenced to only 27 months in prison for spying for the Chinese Communist Party


US Navy sailor sentenced to only 27 months in prison for spying for the Chinese Communist Party

Naval fleet by is licensed under YouTube

If we had a legitimate criminal justice system, a US Navy sailor convicted of spying on the United States for China would be shot for treason. At the least, he would never see the outside of a federal prison for the rest of his life. 

In the Biden Justice Department, however, providing private US military information to our number one enemy in the world nets a whopping 27-month jail sentence, according to Reuters. In comparison, grandparents who trespassed on US Capitol grounds have gotten a lot more prison time. 

In a statement, the Department of Justice announced Petty Officer Wenheng “Thomas” Zhao, 26, pleaded guilty last October to conspiracy and receiving a bribe from China. The government showed Zhao accepted nearly $15,000 in bribes from a Chinese intelligence officer in exchange for unclassified information. 

Zhao, who had been subject to 20 years in prison, was also fined $5,500. 

“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 combatting the Chinese government’s efforts to undermine our nation’s security and holding accountable those who violate our laws as part of those efforts.” 

“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 out to root out and punish those who seek to undermine our nation’s security.” 

Executive Assistant Director Larissa L. Knapp of the FBI’s National Security Branch said Zhao betrayed “the oath he took to our country” while putting “others at risk by providing sensitive U.S. information to a PRC [People’s Republic of China] intelligence official.” She said that China has failed to prevent US intelligence and law enforcement agencies “from apprehending and prosecuting the spies China recruits.” 

Zhao worked at Naval Base Ventura County in Port Hueneme, California, and held a US security clearance. He engaged in a scheme to “collect and transmit sensitive U.S. military information to the intelligence officer,” which was a “violation of his official duties,” the press release said. 

In the nine months between August 2021 and May 2023, Zhao received almost $15,000 over at least 14 payments from the intelligence officer. In exchange, Zhao was accused of collecting and transmitting sensitive, non-public information regarding US Navy operational security, military trainings and exercises, and critical infrastructure, the release continued. Zhao was accused of entering restricted military and naval installations to collect and record the information. 

For example, Zhao provided plans for a “large-scale maritime training exercise in the Pacific theatre,” along with “operational orders and electronic diagrams and blueprints for a Ground/Air Task Oriented Radar system” in Okinawa, Japan. 

The release said Zhao “used sophisticated encrypted communication methods to transmit the information” and “destroyed evidence and concealed his relationship with the intelligence officer.” Zhao was accused of violating his official duties to safeguard such information and the oath he swore to protect the United States. 

“Mr. Zhao betrayed his oath to the United States and deserves to be held fully accountable for accepting bribes in exchange for transmitting sensitive U.S. military information to an intelligence officer from the People’s Republic of China,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge Angel Cruz of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) Office of Special Projects. 

“NCIS will continue to leverage its unique law enforcement and counterintelligence authorities to vigorously pursue those who attempt to compromise our national security information. We are grateful to the FBI and the Department of Justice for their substantial assistance to this lengthy investigation and greatly appreciate our continued partnership.” 

The Department of Justice said the FBI Los Angeles Field Office’s Counterintelligence and Cyber Division and NCIS conducted the investigation, with assistance from IRS-Criminal Investigation, which also played an essential role in the case. 

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