US sailor pleads guilty to attempted China spying

May 19, 2011 - 1:27 PM

NORFOLK, Va. (AP) — A U.S. Navy sailor pleaded guilty Thursday to attempted espionage for trying to sell classified documents to someone he believed was a Chinese intelligence officer.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Bryan Minkyu Martin of Mexico, N.Y., faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.

At a court martial in Norfolk Thursday, Martin said he accepted more than $11,000 from an undercover FBI agent known to him only as "Mr. Lee" in exchange for documents, photographs and images that were classified as secret or top secret. The documents involved naval operations and intelligence assessments related to military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Martin is an intelligence specialist who was stationed at Fort Bragg in North Carolina at the time, preparing for a deployment to Afghanistan. He worked at the base's Joint Special Operations Command and downloaded documents from his desktop computer while at work.

He said he wanted to sell the documents to the Chinese because he believed they would pay the most for them.

Martin said he had four meetings with the undercover agent at various hotels in Spring Lake, N.C. At three of the meetings, he signed receipts for payment of the documents.

Martin also pleaded guilty to seven charges levied against him for mishandling classified documents. Prosecutors withdrew four other related charges involving classified documents based on a pre-trial agreement.

His court martial is scheduled to last through Friday.