A Michigan man pleaded guilty Friday to taking $70,000 from Chinese spies as he attempted to secure jobs with the CIA and U.S. Foreign Service that would have allowed him to expose U.S. government secrets.
Glenn D. Shriver, 28, of Detroit, acknowledged Friday in U.S. District Court that he sought the jobs with the intent of selling classified information to Beijing. He pleaded guilty to a single count of conspiring to provide national defense information to Chinese intelligence officers. As part of the plea agreement, prosecutors and defense attorneys have agreed to recommend a four-year prison term.
According to court papers, Shriver attended a study abroad program in Shanghai in 2002 and 2003 in which he became fluent in Mandarin and developed an appreciation for Chinese culture. After obtaining a degree in international relations from Grand Valley State in Michigan in 2004, he returned to Shanghai and sought work.
There he answered an English-language advertisement that sought people with a background in East Asian studies to write a paper on U.S.-Chinese relations. That led Chinese intelligence officers to recruit Shriver and encourage him to seek out U.S. government jobs that would give him access to classified and secret documents.
In 2005 and 2006, Shriver took the Foreign Service exam. He failed both times, but his Chinese handlers gave him $10,000 for his first attempt and $20,000 for his second. Then, in 2007, Shriver applied for a job with the CIA’s clandestine service. He then traveled to China and requested $40,000 from the Chinese agents for doing so. They paid him in cash, which he smuggled through U.S. Customs on his return.
Court documents indicate that Shriver spent two years going through the CIA hiring process and made it through to the final security screenings. But a U.S. intelligence official said Shriver was discovered very early in the hiring process. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the hiring process.
Shriver’s attorney, G. Allen Dale, said Shriver was a naive young man just out of college when he was recruited by Chinese agents and he now knows he made a terrible mistake.
“He didn’t go to China looking for trouble. It found him,” Dale said in a phone interview.
In all, Shriver met with Chinese agents 20 times between 2004 and 2007 and intended to use his jobs to transmit government secrets to Beijing, authorities said. Dale said that Shriver never landed a job that actually allowed him to divulge any kind of sensitive information.
The U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, Neil MacBride, said Shriver betrayed his country.
“Mr. Shriver threw away his education, his career and his future when he chose to position himself to spy,” MacBride said in a statement. “It’s a valuable lesson to others who might be tempted to do the same.”
In recent years, federal prosecutors have brought dozens of cases against defendants accused of crimes related to Chinese espionage efforts.
Shriver’s sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 21. The plea agreement requires the judge to impose a four-year term.
Shriver was initially charged in June with making false statements. While those charges spelled out that Shriver had lied to the CIA about his contacts with Chinese agents, he was not charged then with attempted espionage.
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)