A former U.S. Navy petty officer, Wenheng Zhao, has been sentenced to just over two years in prison for selling sensitive Navy documents to a Chinese spy. The California-based Zhao, also known as Thomas Zhao, was ordered to pay a $5,500 fine and serve 27 months in prison after pleading guilty to charges of conspiring with a Chinese intelligence officer and receiving a bribe.
Zhao, stationed at Naval Base Ventura County in Port Hueneme, held a security clearance and worked as a Construction Electrician with Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 3. The Department of Justice (DOJ) reported that Zhao took documents from the base to transmit to a Chinese intelligence officer. Zhao sent information, photographs, and videos to the officer, who posed as a maritime economic researcher. He shared plans for a large-scale U.S. military exercise in the Indo-Pacific region, detailing specific locations and timings of Naval force movements, amphibious landings, maritime operations, and logistics support.
Zhao was also accused of photographing electrical diagrams and blueprints for a radar system stationed on a U.S. military base in Okinawa, Japan. The Chinese agents paid Zhao approximately $14,866 for the information. He used encrypted communication methods to transmit the information and destroyed evidence of his relationship with the intelligence officer.