ALEXANDRIA, Virginia (Reuters) - A Detroit man on Friday pleaded guilty to trying to get a job with the Central Intelligence Agency in order to spy for China and to hiding contacts and money he got from Chinese intelligence agents.
Glenn Shriver, 28, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to communicate national defense information. His plea agreement, made public during a hearing in federal court in Virginia, called for a sentence of 48 months in prison.
Shriver acknowledged at the hearing that he met Chinese officials about 20 times beginning in 2004 and that he received a total of about $70,000 from Chinese intelligence officers.
After spending a year in college studying in Shanghai in 2002-2003, he moved there in 2004 to continue his language studies and to work. He responded to an advertisement to write about Sino-U.S. relations and his contact later introduced him to Chinese intelligence agents, prosecutors said.
He agreed to seek a job in the U.S. government and took the U.S. Foreign Service exam at the State Department twice but failed both times. Still the Chinese paid him $30,000 for his “friendship” and efforts, the court papers said.
He applied for a job in the CIA’s National Clandestine Service in 2007 and later flew to Shanghai where he again met with Chinese intelligence officers and demanded $40,000 which they gave him, according to the court papers.
Shriver received word to report to Washington in May 2010 for final employment processing activities with the CIA, and it was at that time he failed to disclose his contacts and money from the Chinese, prosecutors said.
“We remain vigilant against threats to our national security and will do everything in our power to find and punish those who seek to betray our country,” Neil MacBride, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, said in a statement.
Shriver was originally charged in June with five counts for lying on his application to join the CIA. He had said he had no contact with foreign agents although he had met with Chinese intelligence officers several times and they paid him money.
A spokesman for the Chinese embassy in Washington said that his government “never engages itself in activities that’ll harm other countries’ national interests, and it’s sincere in developing Sino-U.S. relations of mutual benefit.”
“Any attempts to defame China with fabricated allegations will prove futile,” the spokesman, Wang Baodong, said in a written statement.
One of Shriver’s lawyers, G. Allen Dale, called the plea agreement a fair resolution of the case and said his client would cooperate with prosecutors to provide any information they needed, which could reduce his sentence.
Shriver had faced up to 10 years in prison.
Relations between Washington and Beijing have been tense over U.S. concerns over what it sees as the undervaluing of the yuan and over trade ties. China is the largest holder of U.S. debt and has worked closely with Washington on some key foreign policy issues, like reining in North Korea’s nuclear program.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder visited China this week and said the two countries needed to cooperate more on law enforcement, including fighting international crime, terrorism and drug trafficking.
Additional reporting by Paul Eckert; Editing by David Storey and Eric Beech