According to court records, a US Navy sailor pled guilty on Tuesday to collect roughly $15,000 as bribes from an intelligence official in China in exchange for images of unclassified secret US military information.
Per a plea bargain filed in federal court in Los Angeles, Wenheng “Thomas” Zhao, Petty Officer, 26, pled guilty to conspiring and taking a bribe.
Court filings and US officials suggest that Zhao admitted delivering to his Chinese handler the plans for the US military exercises in the Indo-Pacific region, operational directives, electrical diagrams, and blueprints for a radar system on a US military facility in Japan’s Okinawa. In August, he was arrested.
Zhao, who served at the Naval Base Ventura County based in California, faces up to 20 years in jail on the counts, although his actual sentence will be determined by a judge.
Zhao’s lawyer did not respond to a request for comments.
In the words of Martin Estrada, the U.S. Attorney of the Central District of California, Zhao betrayed his country and the citizens of the US Navy by taking bribes from a foreign adversary.
The US has accused China of a widespread espionage and cyberattack campaign, which Beijing has denied.
References: NDTV, CNN, SCMP
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