A civilian security guard, assigned to helping protect a U.S. consulate compound currently under construction in the southeastern Chinese city of Guangzhou, was sentenced Tuesday in Washington, D.C., to nine years in prison for his attempt to sell classified photographs, information and access related to the U.S. consulate to China’s Ministry of State Security (MSS).
Bryan Underwood pleaded guilty Aug. 30, 2012, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to one count of attempting to provide national defense information to a foreign government with intent or reason to believe that the documents, photographs or information in question were to be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of a foreign nation.
The 32-year-old American was sentenced by the Honorable Ellen S. Huvelle. Upon completion of his prison term, Underwood will be placed on two years of supervised release.
Underwood, from Indiana, was originally charged in an indictment on Aug. 31, 2011, with two counts of making false statements and was arrested on Sept. 1, 2011. On Sept. 21, 2011, he failed to appear at a scheduled status hearing in federal court in the District of Columbia.
FBI agents later located Underwood in a hotel in Los Angeles and arrested him on Sept. 24, 2011. On Sept. 28, 2011, Underwood was charged in a superseding indictment with one count of attempting to communicate national defense information to a foreign government, two counts of making false statements and one count of failing to appear in court pursuant to his conditions of release, according to court records.
“Bryan Underwood betrayed America’s trust by attempting to sell access to secure areas of the very U.S. Consulate compound he was charged to protect,” said U.S. Assistant Attorney General Lisa Monaco. “Today, he is being held accountable for his actions. As this case demonstrates, we remain vigilant in protecting America’s secrets and in bringing to justice those who seek to compromise them.”
“Access to classified information is a special responsibility to be honored, not a financial opportunity to be exploited,” said U.S. Attorney Ronald Machen.
"Bryan Underwood attempted to betray his country by using his access to sensitive information for his own benefit. Fortunately, he was stopped before classified information fell into the wrong hands,” said FBI Assistant Director in Charge Valerie Parlave.