Ex-Army sergeant, 29, is charged with trying to give secret military intelligence to CHINA after being arrested at San Fran airport when returning from Hong Kong

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Ex-Army sergeant, 29, is charged with trying to give secret military intelligence to CHINA after being arrested at San Fran airport when returning from Hong Kong

  • A former US Army sergeant was charged after he allegedly leaked top-secret US intelligence to China
  • Joseph Daniel Smith, 29, had a high-security clearance military position
  • He travelled to China in 2020 where he allegedly attempted to give security services US national defense information  

A former US Army sergeant has been charged with attempting to share national security secrets with China after parting ways with the military.

Joseph Daniel Smith, 29, was an active-duty soldier in the US Army from 2015 to 2020 and was last stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state.

He was in charge of a team in the Human Intelligence squad which was responsible for overseeing the ‘collection operations and the production of intelligence reporting, analysis, and the dissemination of intelligence products’. 

His job had access to large quantities of classified intelligence and top-secret security clearance, prosecutors said. 

After he separated from the military in 2020 – Schmidt allegedly reached out to the Chinese Consulate in Turkey and emailed Chinese security services to offer information about the US national defense.

A former US Army sergeant was charged with trying to share top-secret US intelligence with China after leaving the military (stock photo)

A former US Army sergeant was charged with trying to share top-secret US intelligence with China after leaving the military (stock photo)

The ex-sergeant allegedly had a device that allowed access to secure military computer networks - which he offered to give to Chinese authorities

The ex-sergeant allegedly had a device that allowed access to secure military computer networks – which he offered to give to Chinese authorities

The US Attorney for the Western District of Washington Tessa Gorman said: ‘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.’

According to a press release from the Office of Public Affairs for the US Department of Justice, Schmidt travelled to Hong Kong where he allegedly further tried to offer confidential information that he knew because of his high-security military post to Chinese intelligence.

The ex-sergeant allegedly had a device that allowed access to secure military computer networks – which its claimed he offered to give to Chinese authorities. 

He stayed in China until this week and was arrested when he returned to the US on a flight to San Francisco. 

Schmidt appeared in US District Court for the Northern District of California on Friday and is set to be brought to the Western District of Washington for further court proceedings. 

The charges that Schmidt faced after his arrest at San Francisco airport are for attempting to deliver national defense information and the retention of national defense information.

Both charges are punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. 

The Assistant Attorney General for National Security Matthew G. Olsen said: ‘Individuals entrusted with national defense information have a continuing duty to protect that information beyond their government service and certainly beyond our borders. 

‘The National Security Division is committed to identifying and holding accountable those who violate that duty.’

Joseph Daniel Smith, 29, served on the US Army from 2015 to 2020 and was last stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state

Joseph Daniel Smith, 29, served on the US Army from 2015 to 2020 and was last stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state 

Schmidt appeared in US District Court for the Northern District of California on Friday and is set to be brought to the Western District of Washington for further court proceedings

Schmidt appeared in US District Court for the Northern District of California on Friday and is set to be brought to the Western District of Washington for further court proceedings

It comes after another instance of leaked classified documents earlier this year. 

A 21-year-old National Guard member was arrested by FBI officials in April for posting pictures of between 50 and 100 classified US documents online.

Jack Teixeira was a member of the intelligence wing of the Massachusetts Air National Guard and unofficial leader of an online group called ‘Thug Shaker Central’ – within which he circulated the documents, many of which related to the war in Ukraine.

Teixeira was among the eldest in the group of mainly young men and teenagers, who were keen on gaming, guns and right-wing memes. 

He went by the name ‘Jack the dripper’ and was referred to as ‘OG’ by other members.

In May a Massachusetts magistrate judge ruled that Teixeira must remain in jail while his case plays out, citing the Air National Guardsmen as a potential flight risk.

Assistant Director Suzanne Turner of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division said: ‘Joseph Daniel Schmidt was once a trusted guardian of our nation’s secrets and swore an oath to defend and protect U.S. national security.

‘As alleged by the government, Schmidt betrayed his promise and potentially placed our nation at risk in his attempts to pass national defense information to Chinese security services.’

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