A former State Department official pleaded guilty Wednesday to concealing her contacts with two Chinese spies who showered her with gifts and benefits worth tens of thousands of dollars in exchange for access to sensitive diplomatic data.
Candace Marie Claiborne, 63, admitted to one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States. She will be sentenced on July 9.
Over the course of five years, the two Chinese spies provided Claiborne with cash, meals, tuition payments, a furnished apartment, phone and laptop computer, according to court documents. Some of the gifts were also provided to a “close family member,” prosecutors said.
Claiborne said the benefits could generate more than $20,000 a year working for Chinese agents, according to court documents.
In exchange, she provided them with internal State Department data, ranging from U.S. economic strategies to visits by dignitaries between the two countries.
Claiborne joined the State Department in 1999. She served in a number of overseas posts, including Iraq, China, Libya, and Sudan, where she maintained a top secret security clearance.
Authorities arrested her in March 2017.
“Candace Marie Claiborne traded her integrity and non-public information of the United States government in exchange for cash and other gifts from foreign agents she knew worked for the Chinese intelligence service,” said Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers. “She withheld information and lied repeatedly about these contacts. Violations of the public’s trust are an affront to our citizens and to all those who honor their oaths.