The US Justice Department announced on Friday (October 6) that a former US Army sergeant was apprehended for trying to supply classified information to China.
Joseph Daniel Schmidt (29) has been charged with retaining secret national defense information and trying to give it to China. Schmidt served in an army intelligence unit from 2015 to 2020.
After leaving the military, Schmidt offered the secret information to Chinese consulate in Turkey and the Chinese security services.
Schmidt had access to secret and top secret information while serving in the 109 Military Intelligence Battalion at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state. In March 2020, he went to Hong Kong. The Justice Department has reportedly said that in Hong Kong, Schmidt “continued his efforts to provide Chinese intelligence with classified information.”
“He allegedly retained a device that allows for access to secure military computer networks and offered the device to Chinese authorities to assist them in efforts to gain access to such networks,” the department said.
Schmidt was living in Hong Kong and returned to the US on Friday (Oct 6). He was arrested as he landed in San Francisco.
“Members of our military take a sworn oath to defend our country and the Constitution,” acting US attorney Tessa Gorman said.
“In that context the alleged actions of this former military member are shocking –- not only attempting to provide national defense information, but also information that would assist a foreign adversary to gain access to Department of Defense secure computer networks.”
If found guilty of charges levelled against him, Schmidt could face up to 20 years in prison.
Schmidt has been arrested just two months after the arrest of two members of the US Navy who were suspected of spying for China.
Jinchao Wei, serving on USS Essex in San Diego, allegedly gave away dozens of photos, documents and videos that detail operation of ships and the system that are aborad it.
Petty Officer Wenheng Zhao, served at a naval base near LA and is accused of spying for China for almost two years.