A former U.S. Air Force college professor conceded he was dishonest about his dealings with a Chinese official on Oct. 25.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) announced Xiaoming Zhang tried to conceal his links to a Shanghai official who tried to exploit his teaching position at the Maxwell Air Force Base Air War College in Alabama.
The 69 year-old pleaded guilty to giving false statements to a federal agent, an offense that can bring a maximum five-year jail sentence.
Zhang, who is of Chinese descendent, regularly visited to China for family and business purposes.
He maintained connections with a “known foreign official working with the Shanghai Municipal Government” for five years. DOJ found he met with the official six times and exchanged nearly 40 emails, between 2012 and 2017.
The official allegedly tried to obtain “sensitive information” from Zhang and contacts of other “potentially valuable individuals.”
Zhang was granted clearance to some confidential information as an Air War College professor.
He did not report any of his dealings to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, which evaluated his security clearance in 2017.
Zhang avoided disclosing his links to the Chinese official through making allegedly inaccurate statements to the FBI. He later admitted to wrongdoing.
Although he was trained in strict security protocols, he still sidestepped them because he knew his relationship with the Chinese official was “improper.”
It is unclear whether the former professor compromised any classified information the Chinese official requested.