United States

Former State Dept. Employee Received Tens of Thousands of Dollars in Gifts from Chinese Spies: DOJ

A former employee for the U.S. Department of State has admitted to accepting thousands of dollars worth of gifts and benefits from two Chinese agents, the Department of Justice said.

Candace Marie Claiborne pleaded guilty Wednesday to a charge of conspiracy to defraud the United States by lying to investigators and hidign her contacts with and gifts from Chinese agents in exchange for internal State Department documents.

Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers, U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Jessie K. Liu, as well as two other officials, announced the plea Wednesday.

They allege that Claiborne "traded her integrity" and top secret information for cash and gifts from Chinese intelligence agents.

"She withheld information and lied repeatedly about these contacts. Violations of the public’s trust are an affront to our citizens and to all those who honor their oaths," Demers said in a news release.

Claiborne was allegedly approached repeatedly by two agents of the Chinese Intelligence Service, who provided her tens of thousands of dollars in gifts over five years, including cash wired to her USAA bank account, Chinese New Year's gifts, international travel and vacations, tuition at a Chinese fashion school, a fully furnished apartment, a monthly stipend and other cash payments, the plea documents say.

The gifts were given to her direclty or directed to Claiborne through a close family member.

In exchange, Claiborne allegedly provided copies of internal State Department documents on topics like U.S. economic strategy.

The Department of Justice also alleges that Claiborne "willfully misled" State Department investigators and the FBI, asking her co-conspirators to delete evidence connecting her to the Chinese agents.

Claiborne was arrested on March 28, 2017 and she was scheduled for sentencing for July 9, 2019.

Claiborne, a D.C. resident, is set to self-surrender on June 5 for detention.

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