China jails two for selling photos of aircraft carrier to foreign spies

China's first aircraft carrier
China's first aircraft carrier


    China's first aircraft carrier


China's first aircraft carrier 01:00

Story highlights

  • Two Chinese men have been jailed for selling military intelligence
  • Material includes hundreds of photos of China's first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning
  • They were jailed for six to eight years

(CNN)Two Chinese men have been jailed for selling military intelligence, including hundreds of photos of China's first aircraft carrier, to foreign spies, state media reported.

According to the Dalian Daily, the two men, surnamed Han and Zhang, were sentenced to eight and six years in prison respectively earlier this year.
    The report said that Han, 30, was approached by a person claiming to be a journalist via the instant messaging app WeChat.
    The "reporter" assigned Han to work in a military base, taking photos of "sensitive areas" of a major military project with his phone in the name of news gathering.
    Last summer, he traveled to Beijing and Liaoning, in China's northeast, to take photos, including images of exhibits at a national defense technology promotion show.
    He later passed recordings and photos to his "employer," the report said.
    "Although the enemies' tricks are cunning, they are totally preventable," the paper said.
    When contacted by CNN, Dalian's Public Security Bureau confirmed the media report was correct but declined to give further details.

    'Spying equipment'

    The other man, Zhang, 23, had sent more than 500 pictures of the Liaoning aircraft carrier, named after the province where it was refitted, to a person who claimed to be an editor with a foreign magazine before being detained last August.
    Two months earlier, Zhang had quit his original job for this better-paid side job, the paper said.
    The paper published photographs of their "spying equipment" -- iPhones, computers and cables.
    Some Internet users questioned whether it was really espionage to take photos of China's aircraft carrier -- even former U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel visited the vessel in 2014.
    "I have photos of the aircraft carrier, too," one person with the handle @gablio posted on Weibo, China's equivalent to Twitter.
    "When I flew from Dalian to Beijing two years ago, I saw the vessel clearly on the plane. Countless people have photographed it."