Two U.S. Navy sailors were arrested Thursday on charges that they provided military intelligence to China, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The pair were accused of providing China with details of U.S. naval ships’ operating systems and information about upcoming military exercises in the Pacific, officials said on Thursday.
According to unsealed federal indictments, a Chinese intelligence officer allegedly approached the junior sailors for information, offering them thousands of dollars.
China “stands apart in terms of the threat that its government poses to the United States,’’ Randy Grossman, a U.S. attorney for the Southern District of California, said during a news conference Thursday. “China is unrivaled in its audacity and the range of its malign efforts to subvert our laws.”
The two sailors, Jinchao “Patrick” Wei and Wenheng “Thomas” Zhao, were taken into custody in California.
Wei, a 22-year-old petty officer second class, served as a machinist’s mate on the amphibious ship USS Essex. According to prosecutors, he faces four charges, including a conspiracy to send national defense information to Chinese officials.
Zhao, a 26-year-old petty officer, allegedly sent photographs, videos and documents to a Chinese intelligence officer over a two-year period in exchange for just under $15,000, the Journal reported. He is charged with conspiracy and receiving a bribe.
At a press conference, U.S. officials condemned China’s espionage campaign Thursday.
“There is no bigger, multigenerational threat to the United States” than China, said FBI Special Agent Stacey Moy. Beijing” will stop at nothing to attack the United States in its strategic plan to become the world’s sole superpower.”