An employee of the State Department of the Caucasus Affairs office has been taken into custody after it came to light that she had been reporting false statements to the FBI along with hiding important contacts from foreign intelligence agencies, as reported by the Office of Public Affairs from the Department of Justice.
According to Acting Assistant Attorney General McCord, this case bears very grave consequences, as the suspect “Candice Marie Claiborne is a U.S. State Department employee who possesses a Top Secret security clearance and allegedly failed to report her contacts with Chinese foreign intelligence agents who provided her with thousands of dollars of gifts and benefits.”
After announcing Claiborne’s charges on Wednesday, McCord accused her of using “her position and her access to sensitive diplomatic data for personal profit.” The general stands firmly convicted that “pursuing those who imperil our national security for personal gain will remain a top priority of the National Security Division.”
Other officials agree that this case will enforce the high standards for department employees. The suspect was not unaware of the magnitude of her actions, as reported by Channing D Philips, Attorney of the District of Columbia. “As a State Department employee with a Top Secret clearance, she received training and briefing about the need for caution and transparency. This case demonstrates that U.S. officials will be held accountable for failing to honor the trust placed in them when they take on such sensitive assignments,” he said. Philips elaborated on the suspect’s personal gain from the secret collaborations, reporting that: “Candace Claiborne is charged with obstructing an official proceeding and making false statements in connection with her alleged concealment and failure to report her improper connections to foreign contacts along with the tens of thousands of dollars in gifts and benefits they provided.”
Since employees are under a strict oath as a requirement for their positions, she is compromising the trust of the federal government, and the case will not be taken lightly. “Candace Claiborne is accused of violating her oath of office as a State Department employee, who was entrusted with Top Secret information when she purposefully mislead [sic] federal investigators about her significant and repeated interactions with foreign contacts,” stated Andrew W. Vale, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office. He went on to reassure the public that “The FBI will continue to investigate individuals who, though required by law, fail to report foreign contacts, which is a key indicator of potential insider threats posed by those in positions of public trust.”
Suspect Claiborne was taken into custody on Tuesday, March 28, and came before the judge at the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia the next afternoon. She chose to plead not guilty and is set up for a preliminary hearing on April 18.
The Department of Justice reported that Claiborne stands to face a penalty of up to 20 years in prison for “obstruction an official proceeding,” and up to five years of prison time for “making false statements to the FBI.”
Go here to find the DOJ’s full report on the matter.