A longtime U.S. State Department employee with a top-secret security clearance faces as much as 20 years behind bars for allegedly concealing her contacts with Chinese intelligence agents. In a statement released Wednesday, the Justice Department said 60-year-old Candace Marie Claiborne, who has held diplomatic posts in China, Iraq, and Sudan, lied to the FBI in the course of an investigation into her contacts and allegedly accepted “thousands of dollars in gifts and benefits” from intelligence agents working for the People’s Republic of China. Claiborne is also accused of ordering a “co-conspirator” to delete all evidence connecting her to the Chinese agents and giving false information to federal investigators. Investigators say Claiborne, who described the Chinese agents as “spies” to her co-conspirator, wrote in her journal that she could earn $20,000 a year working with the agents. One of the agents also wired her $2,480 and asked her to provide internal U.S. government documents, the Justice Department said. “Claiborne used her position and her access to sensitive diplomatic data for personal profit. Pursuing those who imperil our national security for personal gain will remain a key priority of the National Security Division,” Acting Assistant Attorney General Mary B. McCord said Wednesday. Claiborne was arrested by the FBI on Tuesday and made her first court appearance Wednesday. She faces a preliminary hearing on charges of obstructing an official investigation and making false statements to the FBI on April 18.
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