Former State Department employee sentenced to 40 months for taking gifts from Chinese intelligence

Posted at 4:29 PM, Jul 09, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-09 18:29:57-04

A former State Department employee was sentenced to more than three years in prison Tuesday after she pleaded guilty in April to trading sensitive information with Chinese intelligence officers in exchange for lavish gifts.

Candace Claiborne, who had worked for the State Department in countries across the globe since 1999, will also face three years of supervised release and a fine of $40,000, according to the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia.

“The targeting of U.S. security clearance holders by Chinese intelligence services is a constant threat we face, and today’s sentencing shows that those who betray the trust of the American people will be held accountable for their actions,” said John P. Selleck, the acting assistant director of the FBI’s Washington field office.

Claiborne was charged in 2017 with taking gifts — including electronics, vacations and a fully-furnished apartment, as well tuition payments to a Chinese fashion school for a family member — from two Chinese officials. She was also charged with lying about her interactions with the officials on clearance forms and in interviews with government background investigators.

According to plea documents, Claiborne met with the intelligence officials monthly while on a posting in China and on multiple occasions handed over manila envelopes stuffed with printed cables, white papers and other non-public documents about the movements and discussions of US diplomats.

She had faced a maximum of five years in prison on one count of conspiracy to defraud the government.