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US Navy officer sentenced to 27 months for transmitting sensitive information to China

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Shillong, January 9: A US Navy officer, Petty Officer Wenheng Zhao (26), from Monterey Park, California, has been sentenced to 27 months in jail and fined $5,500 for transmitting sensitive military information to a Chinese intelligence officer in exchange for bribes, according to the Justice Department.

As per IANS, Zhao, stationed at the Naval Base Ventura County in Port Hueneme with a US security clearance, pleaded guilty in October 2023 to conspiring with the intelligence officer and receiving a bribe, as per court documents. The sentencing took place on Monday.

Between August 2021 and at least May 2023, Zhao received over $14,866 in at least 14 separate bribe payments from the Chinese intelligence officer. In return for these illicit payments, he covertly collected and transmitted sensitive, non-public information related to US Navy operational security, military training and exercises, and critical infrastructure.

Zhao gained access to restricted military and naval installations to gather and document this classified information. The Department revealed that he also destroyed evidence and concealed his relationship with the Chinese intelligence officer.

Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the Department’s National Security Division stated, “Zhao betrayed his solemn oath to defend his country and endangered those who serve in the US military. Today, he is being held to account for those crimes. The Justice Department is committed to combating the Chinese government’s efforts to undermine our nation’s security and holding accountable those who violate our laws as part of those efforts.”

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