Trial of ex-soldier accused of trying to sell secrets to Chinese delayed until 2025
Stars and Stripes November 24, 2023
The trial of a former Army sergeant charged with trying to sell secrets to the Chinese won’t start until January 2025, a federal judge in Seattle has ruled.
Joseph David Schmidt, 29, who had been a team leader in the human intelligence section of the 109th Military Intelligence Battalion at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, had been due to stand trial next year.
In an order issued Nov. 13 in Seattle, U.S. District Judge John C. Coughenour agreed with Schmidt’s attorneys who argued they needed a significant period to comb through months of documents, notes, recordings and other materials presented by the FBI to support the indictment.
“This case is complex due to the nature of the prosecution and large volume of discovery materials, such that it is unreasonable to expect adequate preparation for pretrial proceedings or for the trial itself within the time limits established,” Coughenour wrote.
At a hearing last month, Schmidt was denied bail as a flight risk and ordered held at a federal security facility.
An FBI report in support of the indictment alleged that after leaving the Army in 2020, Schmidt spent much of the next three years attempting to convince Chinese agents in Istanbul, Hong Kong and Beijing that he could turn over significant materials on American forces and strategy in the region. He also sought employment or affiliation with the Chinese as a self-described expert on espionage and interrogation.
He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
A federal grand jury in Seattle handed down an indictment against Schmidt on two felony counts of violation of national defense acts. Each carried a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The FBI arrested Schmidt on Oct. 6 when he arrived in San Francisco on a flight from Hong Kong.