Former U.S. intelligence officer charged with trying to give classified info to China

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SEATTLE — A former U.S. Army intelligence officer has been charged with attempting to provide classified defense information to the Chinese security services during the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic — including some listed in a Microsoft Word document titled “Important Information to Share with Chinese Government.”

Authorities on Friday arrested former Sgt. Joseph Daniel Schmidt, 29, at San Francisco International Airport as he arrived from Hong Kong, where he had been living since March 2020, the Justice Department said. A federal grand jury in Seattle returned an indictment Wednesday charging him with retention and attempted delivery of national defense information.

A public defender assigned to represented Schmidt at a brief appearance at U.S. District Court in San Francisco on Friday pending his transfer to Washington state did not immediately return an email seeking comment. U.S. District Court records in Seattle did not list an attorney representing Schmidt on the charges, and neither the U.S. attorney’s office nor the federal public defender’s office had information about whether he had a lawyer, representatives said.

An FBI declaration filed in the case quoted Schmidt as telling his sister in an email that he left the U.S. because he disagreed with unspecified aspects of American policy.