A former U.S. Army sergeant faces felony charges after the Justice Department says he attempted to pass sensitive national defense information to China through email.

Joseph Daniel Schmidt, a 29-year-old from Washington state, was arrested Friday and charged with retention of national defense information and attempting to deliver national defense information, for allegedly trying to provide China with defense information after he left the military. Schmidt, an active-duty soldier from 2015 to 2020, had access to secret and top-secret information as part of his assignment in the 109th Military Intelligence Battalion. 

After Schmidt left the military, prosecutors allege he reached out to the Chinese Consulate in Turkey and then the Chinese security services via email, offering information about the United States’ defense. Shortly after leaving the military in 2020, Schmidt traveled to Hong Kong, where prosecutors allege he retained a device that allows access to U.S. military networks and offered the device to Chinese authorities. 

Schmidt was arrested Friday as he attempted to fly from Hong Kong to San Francisco. A grand jury handed down the indictment Thursday

“Members of our military take a sworn oath to defend our country and the Constitution. In that context the alleged actions of this former military member are shocking – not only attempting to provide national defense information, but also information that would assist a foreign adversary to gain access to Department of Defense secure computer networks,” Acting U.S. Attorney Tessa M. Gorman for the Western District of Washington said. “I commend the FBI for their diligent work to end his alleged efforts to betray our country.”

If he is found guilty, Schmidt faces up to 10 years in prison for each count and a $250,000 fine. U.S. Army Counterintelligence Command is helping the FBI investigate the case. 

In April, Massachusetts Air National Guardsman Jack Teixeira was arrested for allegedly leaking classified U.S. intelligence documents online. He faces six counts of willful retention and transmission of national defense information. 

The charges against Schmidt are different from the charges leveled against former President Donald Trump for his alleged handling of classified documents. Trump faces 31 counts of willful retention of classified documents, along with other charges.