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Two US Navy Sailors are detained on national security and China-related charges

By 08/03/2023 9:34 PMNo CommentsBy YidInfo Staff


Federal officials announced Thursday that two U.S. Navy sailors have been detained on suspicion of giving China secret military intelligence, including specifics on naval operations, combat drills, and vital technological information.

According to U.S. officials, Jinchao Wei, a 22-year-old seaman assigned to the USS Essex in San Diego, was detained on Wednesday on suspicion of conspiring to provide sensitive national defense information to Chinese authorities.

Wenhen Zhao, a 26-year-old Navy service member, was also accused by the Justice Department of accepting bribes in exchange for providing a Chinese intelligence officer with private U.S. military images and videos between August 2021 and at least this May.

On Thursday in San Diego, federal officials discussed the cases during a news conference. It was unclear on Thursday if the two sailors were related or if they were courted or paid by the same Chinese intelligence official, despite the fact that they were charged with similar offenses but in distinct cases.

According to US prosecutors, in February 2022, Wei spoke with a Chinese government intelligence officer and, upon the officer’s request, provided pictures and recordings of the ship he was assigned to.

According to the Justice Department, the material he supplied included technical and mechanical documents as well as specifics regarding the quantity and preparation of Marines for a forthcoming exercise.

Wei was charged by the Justice Department under the rarely applied Espionage Act, which makes it illegal to collect or transmit information with the intention of assisting a foreign government.

According to officials, the anonymous Chinese intelligence officer gave Wei orders not to disclose their relationship, to exchange critical information, and to obliterate evidence in order to help them hide their relationship.

According to federal officials, Wei received thousands of dollars in exchange for providing the information.

The USS Essex is an amphibious assault ship with a full flight deck that can transport a variety of helicopters, including the MV-22 Ospreys. It is also known as a landing Helicopter Dock.

Zhao, the second officer indicted, is accused of disclosing details on a military exercise being conducted by the United States in the Indo-Pacific region, including operational plans.

Zhao allegedly secretly recorded the information that he provided, according to the prosecution.


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