A former People's Liberation Army soldier turned US defence contractor has been handed six months home detention after transferring classified material to a USB stick and deleting logs.
Wei Chen, 62, of Massachusetts, was charged in July 2015 with making a false statement and damaging army computers after he was found transferring classified documents onto a thumbdrive, using security clearance he gained by lying on an application form about his involvement with China's PLA.
Chen deleted logs in a bid to cover up the document siphon, the US Department of Justice says.
The rogue employee was also handed five years probation and a fine of $8000 after pleading guilty in December.
Chen faced up to 15 years in prison.
The Department explained that Chen was assigned as a system administrator to the Camp Buehring army posting in Kuwait after receiving his clearance.
"On June 15 and 16, 2013, Chen connected one or more of his own thumb drives to computers at Camp Buehring that were connected to the Army’s unclassified network and the classified Secret-level network.
Chen then made an effort to cover his tracks and hide his security violation. Specifically, he cleared network logs on the server that would have documented the connection of the thumb drive to the network server. Chen also copied a computer file, containing saved e-mail and documents, from his Secret-level workstation onto his thumb drive."
The Department did not detail if simply clicking 'no' to the question 'have you ever served in a foreign country’s military?' was sufficient to obtain security clearance in the US Army, but noted Chen did so with knowledge that false answers can lead to jail time. ®