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U.S. Navy sailor from Wisconsin charged with espionage deemed 'danger to community'

U.S. Navy sailor Jinchao "Patrick" Wei was charged with providing sensitive military information to China — including details on wartime exercises, naval operations, and critical technical material.
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Posted at 8:50 PM, Aug 08, 2023
and last updated 2023-08-09 18:24:42-04

SAN DIEGO, Cali. — A U.S. Navy sailor from Wisconsin accused of selling military secrets to China will remain in custody, according to our sister station in San Diego.

Jinchao "Patrick" Wei was charged last week with providing sensitive military information to China. This included details on wartime exercises, naval operations, and critical technical material, the AP reported.

According to 10 News in San Diego, a grand jury indictment accuses Wei of accepting bribes in exchange for information concerning "the defense and weapon capabilities of U.S. Navy ships, potential vulnerabilities of these ships, and information related to ship movement."

Wei was arrested last Wednesday at Naval Base San Diego as he was boarding the ship for work. He was assigned as a machinist's mate on the USS Essex.
He appeared in court Tuesday for a hearing on his custodial status. 10 News reports his attorney said Wei would "stipulate to remain in custody for now until he received more evidence from the prosecution." Prosecutors argued Wei could be a flight risk and a danger to the community.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Fred Sheppard said Wei was "certainly a danger to the thousands of sailors who are on those ships and transported by those ships."

WATCH: TMJ4's Mariam Mackar reports on Wisconsin sailor charged with espionage

Two U.S. Navy sailors charged with spying for China

Sheppard also said Wei's only relative in the U.S. is his mother who allegedly was aware of Wei's actions and actively supported it, according to 10 News.

A yearbook shows that Wei graduated from Delavan-Darien High School in 2019. As TMJ4 News previously reported, friends of Wei still living in Delavan say he was kind, quiet, and very intelligent. They say they were in complete disbelief when hearing the news.

When TMJ4 News stopped by Wei's last known address in Delavan, crews were met with a man who confirmed knowing Wei, but declined to speak because he was expecting to be contacted by the government.

A second U.S. Navy sailor was arrested out of Naval Base Ventura County in Port Hueneme. Petty Officer Wenheng Zhao, 26, faces similar accusations. Both sailors allegedly received thousands of dollars for the information. It is not yet known if they were communicating with the same Chinese intelligence officer.

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