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Ex-US consulate guard admits trying to sell secrets to China

WASHINGTON — A former security guard at a U.S. consulate in China pleaded guilty on Thursday to trying to pass secrets to China, including photographs of the U.S. building site, prosecutors said.

Bryan Underwood, 32, planned to sell information about the U.S. consulate being built in Guangzhou to China's Ministry of State Security for $3 million to $5 million, the U.S. Attorney's office said in a statement.

Underwood, a former contract civilian guard, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Washington to one count of attempting to communicate national defense information to a foreign government.

Underwood was arrested on the run by FBI agents in Los Angeles in September 2011 after initial charges that he lied about why he was taking photos of the consulate.

Underwood, a former Indiana resident, had worked as a guard at the consulate construction site from November 2009 to August 2011. He planned to sell the photos and other information after he was hit by stock market reverses, the statement said.

Underwood faces a maximum sentence of life in prison. Sentencing is set for Nov. 19.

U.S. prosecutors have brought charges against numerous people over the years who have tried to spy for China. They include some who sought money in exchange for economic or national security-related information. 

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