Pentagon staffer guilty of handing secrets to China agent

Agence France-Presse | March 31, 2008

A Pentagon official pleaded guilty Monday to passing US military secrets to an agent working for China after being showered with gifts and gambling money, the Department of Justice said.

Gregg William Bergersen, 51, faces up to 10 years in jail after admitting to one count of conspiracy to disclose national defense information to persons not entitled to receive it, the department said in a statement.

It said Bergersen started handing secret information in March 2007 to Tai Shen Kuo, 58, a Taiwan-born US citizen with business interests in New Orleans.

Bergersen worked as a weapons systems policy analyst at the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, which implements the Pentagon's foreign military sales program.

Unbeknown to Bergersen, Kuo was passing the information to an unnamed Chinese government official. But the DoJ statement said the US official knew the documents, many of which were about US weapons sales to Taiwan, were classified and should not be shared with outsiders.

"During the course of the conspiracy, Kuo cultivated a friendship with Bergersen, bestowing on him gifts, cash payments, dinners, and money for gambling during trips to Las Vegas," it said.

Bergersen will be sentenced on June 20 and faces up to 10 years behind bars, the statement said. Both Kuo and an alleged conspirator, Chinese citizen Yu Xin Kang, remain held without bond pending espionage charges.

Patrick Rowan, acting assistant attorney general for national security, said Bergersen had "betrayed his oath to serve and protect our nation."

"This case serves as a reminder that espionage networks are relentless in their efforts to steal our secrets and continue to pose a serious threat to our national security," he said.

China's foreign secret service is among the "most aggressive" in trying to steal sensitive US military technology and information, US Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnell charged last September.

A week ago, Chinese-born US engineer Chi Mak was jailed for 24 years after being convicted of conspiring to smuggle sensitive technology about US Navy submarines to China.