A former contractor for the United States military has received six months of house arrest for copying classified computer files.
On May 5th, Wei Chen, 62, of Westfield, Massachusetts was sentenced for making false statements and damaging a protected computer while working for the U.S. military several years ago.
In 2013, Chen was working as a computer systems analyst for Camp Buehring in Kuwait. After learning he was to be transferred to Afghanistan, Chen connected one or more thumb drives to the Army's unclassified network and Secret-level classified network and copied several computer files.
According to a statement issued by the Department of Justice, the former military contractor also attempted to conceal his efforts.
"Chen then made an effort to cover his tracks and hide his security violation. Specifically, he cleared network logs on the server that would have documented the connection of the thumb drive to the network server."
The U.S. military ultimately found out about these violations and launched a full investigation into Chen.
During the probe, investigators learned Chen had lied on a questionnaire he took back in 2010 while applying for a system administrator position with the Department of Defence. He answered that he had never served in a foreign country's military. In reality, Chen had served with the People's Liberation Army of China for six months prior to immigrating to the United States in 2006.
Assistant U.S. Attorney B. Stephanie Siegmann reasons the former military contractor made this decision because he believed he would never obtain a high-paying contractor position with the U.S. military if he revealed his history.
"Initially he disclosed he was just a cook," she said, quoted by MassLive. "After, he disclosed he had served in an anti-aircraft unit."
Ultimately, the U.S. military found no evidence Chen was attempting to steal state secrets for the People's Republic of China.
They did learn, however, that he had copied some classified files onto his thumb drive, including two documents that pertained to troop movements.
As a result, prosecutors brought charges against Chen for his actions in 2013.
He faced a maximum prison sentence of 15 years.
For his part, the former military contractor claimed he was attempting to copy only some of his own documents and templates so that he could take them with him to Afghanistan. He also apologized and asked that the court spare him prison time.
"No words can describe how regretful I am. I would rather trade a limb of mine. It has been a devastating personal and family disaster," Chen said. "Please save limited prison space for violent criminals and terrorists."
In December of 2015, he pleaded guilty to making false statements and damaging a U.S. Army computer.
Chen has since been sentenced to six months of house arrest, five years of probation, and a fine of $8,000