An employee of the U.S. State Department was arrested on Tuesday for sharing confidential information with Chinese agents.
According to a report by Reuters, Candace Claiborne appeared in federal court earlier today on charges that resulted from a counterintelligence investigation by the FBI. Claiborne worked in the Caucasus Affairs office, and she had access to sensitive information which she leaked to these foreign agents. The DOJ press release also stated that Claiborne lied to the FBI:
“Candace Marie Claiborne is a U.S. State Department employee who possesses a Top Secret security clearance and allegedly failed to report her contacts with Chinese foreign intelligence agents who provided her with thousands of dollars of gifts and benefits.”
“Claiborne also is required to report any contacts with persons suspected of affiliation with a foreign intelligence agency. This case demonstrates that U.S. government employees will be held accountable for failing to honor the trust placed in them when they take on such sensitive assignments.”
Acting Assistant Attorney General McCord also said in a statement that Claiborne, who had worked at the State Department since 1999, had accepted gifts from foreign agents in exchange for economic information:
“Claiborne used her position and her access to sensitive diplomatic data for personal profit. Pursuing those who imperil our national security for personal gain will remain a key priority of the National Security Division.”
In once instance in 2011, Claiborne was given nearly $2,500 by a Chinese agent for information on America’s economic policy. Other gifts also included “cash wired to Claiborne’s USAA account, an Apple iPhone and laptop computer, Chinese New Year’s gifts, meals, international travel and vacations, tuition at a Chinese fashion school, a fully furnished apartment, and a monthly stipend.”
If convicted, Claiborne could get up to 25 years in prison for obstruction of justice and lying to the FBI. Claiborne’s arrest alone is quite significant, but carries even more weight as Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping are scheduled to meet on April 6-7.
Featured image is a screenshot