U.S. Army Sergeant Arrested for Spying Secrets to China: DoJ

In a shocking turn of events, a former U.S. Army Sergeant, Joseph Daniel Schmidt, has been arrested and indicted on charges of attempting to deliver national defense information and retaining such information. 

Schmidt, whose last military assignment was at Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) in western Washington, was taken into custody upon his arrival in San Francisco on a flight from Hong Kong.

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This arrest sends shockwaves through the nation, as it highlights the serious consequences that can result from betraying the trust placed in those entrusted with national defense information.

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National Security at Stake

The charges against Schmidt are nothing short of grave. He is accused of breaching the sanctity of national defense information, a duty beyond government service and national borders, as Assistant Attorney General for National Security Matthew G. Olsen emphasized. 

The Department of Justice’s National Security Division is committed to holding individuals accountable for such violations.

Joseph Daniel Schmidt, once a guardian of the nation’s secrets and a defender of U.S. national security, now faces allegations of betrayal. 

The FBI’s Counterintelligence Division Assistant Director, Suzanne Turner, expressed concern over Schmidt’s actions, which allegedly aimed to pass national defense information to Chinese security services. 

If these alleged actions are proven to be true, they could have potentially endangered the safety and security of the entire nation.

Acting U.S. Attorney Tessa M. Gorman for the Western District of Washington expressed her shock at the alleged actions of Schmidt, stating that his attempt not only involved providing national defense information but also aiding a foreign adversary in gaining access to Department of Defense secure computer networks.

Timeline of Events

According to court records, Schmidt served as an active-duty soldier from January 2015 to January 2020, during which time he had access to both SECRET and TOP SECRET information while stationed at JBLM. 

After leaving the military, Schmidt allegedly made contact with the Chinese Consulate in Turkey and later communicated with Chinese security services via email, offering classified information.

Schmidt’s actions reportedly extended into 2020 when he traveled to Hong Kong and continued his efforts to share classified information he had acquired during his military service. 

Additionally, he is accused of retaining a device that could grant access to secure military computer networks and offering it to Chinese authorities to assist in their efforts to breach these networks.

Arrest and Consequences

Schmidt had remained in China, primarily in Hong Kong, until his recent arrest in San Francisco. 

The charges against him, both the attempt to deliver national defense information and the retention of such information, carry severe penalties, including up to 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.

The FBI is actively investigating this case, with support from the U.S. Army Counterintelligence Command. 

Assistant U.S. Attorney Todd Greenberg for the Western District of Washington and Deputy Chief Matthew J. McKenzie of the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section will prosecute the case.

It’s crucial to remember that an indictment is merely an allegation, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. 

Nevertheless, this case serves as a stark reminder of the importance of safeguarding national security information and the serious consequences of its breach.

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Gurubaran is a co-founder of Cyber Security News and GBHackers On Security. He has 10+ years of experience as a Security Consultant, Editor, and Analyst in cybersecurity, technology, and communications.