FBI Says U.S. State Department Employee Bribed by Chinese Spies

The FBI has arrested a U.S. State Department employee for concealing extensive contacts with Chinese agents. (Image: Dave Newman via flickr /CC BY 2.0)
The FBI has arrested a U.S. State Department employee for concealing extensive contacts with Chinese agents. (Image: Dave Newman via flickr /CC BY 2.0)

A veteran U.S. State Department employee has been arrested by the FBI on charges linked to her being paid tens of thousands of dollars in gifts and benefits from Chinese intelligence agents.

Candace Marie Claiborne, 60, was arrested March 28 for allegedly lying to investigators about her contacts with Chinese intelligence agents. Federal agents contend that Claiborne and her family received cash and gifts from Chinese agents over a five year period.

Assistant Director in Charge Andrew W. Vale of the FBI’s Washington Field Office said that Claiborne violated her oath of office as a State Department employee.

“[Claiborne] purposefully mislead federal investigators about her significant and repeated interactions with foreign contacts,” Vale said in a Department of Justice (DOJ) statement.

Due to her position as an office management specialist, Claiborne was required to report any contact with individuals assumed to be associated with a foreign intelligence agency.

Gifts given to Claiborne and her family by Chinese agents included cash, electronics, international vacations, a fully furnished apartment, and a monthly stipend, said a U.S. government affidavit.

According to the affidavit, Claiborne wrote in her journal that she could “Generate 20k in one year” working with one of the Chinese agents. The affidavit went on to give an example of a Chinese agent wiring money to Claiborne for her providing internal U.S. government analyses on a U.S.-Sino Strategic Economic Dialogue.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Mary B. McCord for National Security said that Claiborne had top secret security clearance, which she abused.

“Claiborne used her position and her access to sensitive diplomatic data for personal profit,” said McCord.

The affidavit alleges that after State Department and FBI investigators contacted her, Claiborne instructed co-conspirators to delete evidence connecting her with the Chinese agents.

The Chinese agents were assessed by the FBI to be from the Shanghai State Security Bureau.

At the time of her arrest, Claiborne was working at the State Department headquarters in Washington, D.C. for the Office of Caucasus Affairs and Regional Conflicts.

Claiborne has worked for the U.S. State Department since 1999 and in that time had postings abroad, including both Beijing and Shanghai, during three tours to China. She has language proficiencies in Arabic, Mandarin Chinese, and Spanish.

During her first court appearance, Claiborne pleaded not guilty. If found guilty of the charges, she could spend as much as 20 years in jail. Her next court appearance is April 18.

In 2010, 28-year-old Glenn Duffie Shriver was arrested and later found guilty of trying to infiltrate the CIA as a mole for Chinese intelligence. See Shriver describe how he was recruited by Chinese agents in this FBI video below:

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