A former US diplomat pleaded guilty on Wednesday to lying to investigators about money she received from Chinese intelligence agents in exchange for US documents, the Justice Department said.

Candace Marie Claiborne, 63, was a Department of State office management specialist based in Beijing and Shanghai who became involved beginning in 2007 with two men the Justice Department said she knew were agents of China’s Ministry of State Security.

File photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP.

They gave her “tens of thousands” of dollars in cash and gifts in exchange for documents and information on State Department activities, it said.

Claiborne was arrested two years ago following an investigation but was not charged with espionage.

She admitted conspiracy to defraud the United States, lying to investigators and, as a government official with a high security clearance, illegally hiding her contacts with foreign agents.

US Department of State headquarters. Photo: Wikicommons.

The conspiracy charge could carry up to five years in prison.

“Candace Marie Claiborne traded her integrity and non-public information of the United States government in exchange for cash and other gifts from foreign agents she knew worked for the Chinese intelligence service,” said Assistant Attorney General John Demers.

AFP is a global news agency delivering fast, in-depth coverage of the events shaping our world from wars and conflicts to politics, sports, entertainment and the latest breakthroughs in health, science and technology.