A long-time U.S. State Department employee has been arrested on charges of lying to investigators about numerous contacts and gifts she got from Chinese intelligence agents.
The Justice Department says Candace Marie Claiborne pleaded not guilty before a federal judge.
Claiborne has been a State Department Office Management Specialist since 1999. She had a top-secret security clearance and was posted to embassies and consulates in Baghdad, Khartoum, Shanghai and Beijing.
Prosecutors allege Chinese officials showered Claiborne with tens of thousands of dollars in gifts when she was there, including cash, computers, meals, travel and an apartment.
Prosecutors say in exchange for cash, a Chinese intelligence agent asked Claiborne to provide internal U.S. government analysis of a U.S.-Chinese economic conference.
Clairborne is charged with failing to tell the FBI about her contacts with the Chinese agents — a requirement of her top-secret security clearance — and obstructing what the Justice Department calls an "official proceeding."
Justice officials say Claiborne "used her position and her access to sensitive diplomatic data for personal profit," and say U.S. employees will be held accountable if they fail to honor the trust placed in them.
Claiborne faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted.
Acting State Department spokesman Mark Toner said, “When a public servant is suspected of potential misconduct or federal crimes that violate the public trust, we vigorously investigate such claims. The Department of State is firmly committed to investigating and working with the Department of Justice and our other law enforcement partners to investigate any allegations of criminal activity and bring those who commit crimes to justice.”