US Navy sailor encouraged by mother to sell secrets to China for possible job opportunities: attorney

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The U.S. Navy sailor charged with sharing secrets with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) was encouraged by his mother, an assistant U.S. attorney says. 

Jinchao Wei, 22, is accused of providing inside military information to the Chinese government while serving in the U.S. Navy. 

Assistant U.S. Attorney Fred Sheppard asserted Tuesday that Wei’s mother was aware of her son’s espionage for the CCP and encouraged him, believing it could help him secure a position in the Chinese government.

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USS Essex

Jinchao Wei was serving in the U.S. Navy aboard USS Essex while providing detailed information about the ship, its location, and its defensive capabilities to the Chinese Communist Party. (U.S. Navy)

Wei, who was born in China, was applying for naturalized citizenship when he was allegedly approached by the CCP in February 2022. 

He is accused of sharing photos and videos of USS Essex, disclosing the location of Navy ships and describing the Essex’s defensive weapons to a Chinese intelligence officer in exchange for thousands of dollars.

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The former sailor is being charged by the U.S. government under the Espionage Act. Wei has pleaded not guilty.

USS Essex

Amphibious assault ship USS Essex pictured in the Port of Los Angeles in San Pedro for L.A. Fleet Week. (Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Wei was apprehended by authorities at the same as another alleged Chinese spy in the U.S. military. It is not clear if the two were directly connected or aware of one another.

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The second sailor, Petty Officer Wenheng Zhao, aka Thomas Zhao, 26, of Monterey Park, California, is charged with conspiracy and receipt of a bribe from a Chinese official. Zhao worked at Naval Base Ventura County in Port Hueneme and held a U.S. security clearance.

Zhao is accused of secretly recording U.S. military information, photographs and videos and then transmitting to a Chinese intelligence officer posing as a maritime economic researcher in exchange for bribes. 

Electrical diagrams and blueprints for a radar system stationed on a U.S. military base in Okinawa, Japan, were some materials shared with the Chinese intel officer.

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“Without getting into specific cases, as we’ve talked about before, I think we have clear policies and procedures in place when it comes to safeguarding and protecting sensitive information,” Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder said. “And so if those rules are violated, the appropriate action will be taken as it has in the cases that were highlighted.”

Fox News Digital’s Anders Hagstrom contributed to this report.



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