Navy Sailors Charged with Espionage for Allegedly Sharing Secrets with China

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On Thursday, the U.S. Department of Justice detained two U.S. Navy Sailors on charges of national security relating to China.

The two cases may not be connected. The first sailor was a 22-year-old assigned to a vessel based in San Diego. He was arrested for espionage charges relating to an attempt to share information with a Chinese official.

The second sailor is based in Los Angeles and charged with conspiracy as well as receiving a bribe from a Chinese official.

DOJ officials did not identify either U.S. Sailor by name. However, a DOJ spokesperson detailed the charges brought against each member.

In the first case, assistant attorney general Matthew Olsen stated that the defendant was a petty officer who worked as a construction engineer. He is accused of conspiring with PRC intelligence officers to collect and transmit military information on naval operations.

He added that “the defendant is alleged to have accepted bribes, and given the PRC Intelligence officer photographs and video of military exercise plans and operational orders as well as electrical systems.”

Olsen added, “In the second instance, out of the southern district, the defendant is charged with espionage, and for violating export control laws for collecting and sending sensitive national defense information under the direction of PRC intelligence officers.”

Olsen stated that “as instructed by the intelligence officer the defendant transmitted or tried to transmit over 50 manuals and documents containing technical data and mechanical information about naval amphibious attack ships.” “Several of these documents were allegedly marked as export control warnings, and contained information about the power system, weapon systems, and damage control aboard these ships,” Olsen said.

Olsen stated that China is “different” from other nations that pose a threat to U.S. national security.

Olsen, who spoke on Thursday, said that China is “unrivaled in its audacity” and “the range of its malign attempts to subvert our law”.