Former US Army sergeant Joseph Daniel Schmidt has been arrested on charges of keeping national defense information and attempting to share it with the Chinese government. Schmidt, who served in the US Army from 2015 to 2020, allegedly had access to classified intelligence and held a top-secret security clearance. Court documents reveal that Schmidt made trips to Beijing and Turkey after transitioning to inactive duty in January 2020. During this time, he allegedly sent an email to the Chinese Consulates’ public email address in Turkey expressing his intention to move to China and share information he acquired during his career. Schmidt was arrested at an airport in San Francisco upon his return to the US.
While in China, Schmidt allegedly created documents detailing US Army intelligence practices and contacted Chinese government-run companies to offer his services and access to sensitive material. He also sought to “reverse engineer” an encryption key used to access a classified Army network. Schmidt allegedly expressed his motivation to leave the US after learning “some terrible things about the American government” while serving in the Army.
If convicted, Schmidt could face up to 10 years in prison for each of the two charges he faces: attempting to deliver national defense information and retention of national defense information. Schmidt is scheduled to make his initial appearance in a California federal court on Friday.