BEIJING (Reuters) - A Chinese graduate student has been arrested for selling intelligence material to foreigners, state media said on Wednesday, the latest in a string of espionage cases in the country.
The man, surnamed Chang and from the northeastern city of Harbin, was studying aerospace and was arrested on Tuesday, the official Xinhua news agency said.
He collected more than 60 items of intelligence and provided them overseas 54 times over the course of about two years, getting paid more than 200,000 yuan ($32,000) from “foreign individuals” who contacted him through online posts, it said.
“This case reflects that the black hand of foreign intelligence groups has already extended to university students through the corrosion of the Internet,” Xinhua said.
The arrest comes as China is investigating a Canadian couple who ran a coffee shop on the Chinese border with North Korea for suspected theft of military and intelligence information and for threatening national security.
There was no indication of any connection between the two cases.
Xinhua said Chang was given money to travel abroad and to the southern Chinese island province of Hainan, where he took “sensitive military images” and transmitted them overseas.
The news agency said Chang was fully aware of the criminal nature of his actions, but was “unable to resist the temptation of the money”.
The crimes represented a “serious threat to China’s national security”, Xinhua said, adding that Chang expressed regret for his actions.
In May, state media reported that a court had handed a 10-year prison term to an individual who leaked secret documents and photographs, including military journals and information about bases in the southern province of Guangdong to a foreign spy.
China’s state secrets law is notoriously broad, covering everything from industry data to the exact birth dates of state leaders. Information can also be labeled a state secret retroactively.
In severe cases, the theft of state secrets is punishable with life in prison or the death penalty.
Reporting by Michael Martina; Editing by Robert Birsel