OAN’s Abril Elfi
12:19 PM – Saturday, October 7, 2023
A former United States sergeant has been indicted by the Justice Department after he reportedly tried to pass classified information to China.
Joseph Daniel Schmidt, 29, was arrested Friday and charged with retention of national defense information and attempting to transmit national defense information for allegedly attempting to provide defense information to China through email after leaving the military.
Schmidt, who served in the 109th Military Intelligence Battalion from 2015 to 2020, had access to classified and top-secret information as part of his job.
After leaving the military, he allegedly emailed the Chinese Consulate in Turkey, offering them information about the U.S. defense.
Court records show that Schmidt allegedly introduces himself in the email and indicates that he has a top secret U.S. government security clearance as well as experience in surveillance detection and operating spies. He is said to have offered to share his knowledge with the Chinese leadership and requested a face-to-face meeting.
Investigators retrieved from Schmidt’s Apple iCloud account a Word document that he allegedly wrote two days later titled “Important Information to Share with the Chinese Government.” which the Army later determined to contained sensitive material.
According to prosecutors, Schmidt traveled to Hong Kong shortly after leaving the military in 2020, where they believe he retained a device that allowed him access to U.S .military networks and provided it to Chineses authorities.
The former sergeant was then arrested as he was attempting to fly from Hong Kong to San Francisco.
Acting U.S. Attorney Tessa M. Gorman for the Western District of Washington said that Schmidt committed alleged efforts to “betray our country.”
“Members of our military take a sworn oath to defend our country and the Constitution. 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,” Gorman said. “I commend the FBI for their diligent work to end his alleged efforts to betray our country.”
The Washington State 29-year-old can face up to 10 years behind bars for each count and a $250,000 fine if he is found guilty.
The U.S. Army Counterintelligence Command along with the FBI are investigating the case.
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