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The U.S. Department of Justice arrested two U.S. Navy sailors on national security charges

Two U.S. Navy servicemembers have recently been apprehended for their alleged involvement in transmitting highly sensitive military information to the Chinese government. The individuals in question are Jinchao Wei, also known as Patrick Wei, and Wenheng Zhao, or Thomas Zhao, respectively.

According to a press release issued by the Department of Justice, Jinchao Wei was arrested on Wednesday on charges of "conspiracy to send national defense information to an intelligence officer working for the People’s Republic of China." The investigation revealed that Wei initiated contact with a Chinese intelligence officer in February 2022.

Subsequently, he was assigned the task of providing the Chinese officer with information pertaining to U.S. Navy ships. During his time stationed on the U.S.S. Essex, Wei supposedly shared details regarding the vessel's weaponry systems and disclosed the whereabouts of other U.S. ships. The Department of Justice has specifically identified several instances where Wei passed on sensitive information to the officer, allegedly receiving compensation in return.

Addressing Wei's actions, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of California Randy Grossman described the alleged transmission of defense information as an "ultimate act of betrayal." Grossman vowed to pursue a thorough investigation and prosecution, underlining the United States' resolve in dealing with similar instances.

In a separate case, Wenheng Zhao, also known as Thomas Zhao, has been charged with accepting bribes in exchange for transmitting information to a Chinese intelligence officer who posed as a maritime economic researcher. The alleged passing of materials commenced in August 2021 and continued until at least May of this year.

One notable transmission involved Zhao providing operational plans for a significant U.S. military exercise in the Indo-Pacific region. According to the Department of Justice, Zhao revealed specific details about the timing and locations relating to the movement of naval forces during this incident.

U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California Martin Estrada condemned Zhao's actions, labelling them as a betrayal of his solemn oath to safeguard the country and uphold its Constitution. If convicted, Zhao could face up to 20 years in prison.

It is important to note that the two cases appear to be unrelated and involve distinct individuals.

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