US Consulate Guard Charged With Attempting to Pass Defense Info to China

A former guard who worked for the U.S. consulate in Hong Kong has been charged with attempting to pass national defense information to the Chinese government. Bryan Underwood, a former U.S. Marine who worked as a contract guard at the consulate, allegedly tried to pass photographs and other national defense information to the Chinese government since March 2011.

Underwood, 31, was initially charged in a sealed indictment Aug. 31 with making false statements to the FBI.  According to that indictment,  “Underwood, did knowingly and willfully make a materially false, fictitious, and fraudulent statement and representation … to an FBI representative that he was intending to assist the FBI when he wrote a letter stating his ‘interest in initiating a business arrangement’ with a certain entity, when in truth and in fact the defendant knew at the time he made the statement that it was false.”

Underwood was initially arrested Sept. 1 and pleaded not guilty before Judge John Facciola. Underwood was released from custody under his own personal recognizance but failed to appear at his next court hearing Sept. 21. The FBI subsequently located Underwood in Los Angeles and arrested him Saturday.

Underwood was charged in a superseding indictment, unsealed today, with allegedly trying to pass photographs and other defense information to the Chinese government.  According to U.S. officials, Underwood allegedly reached out to the Chinese while he was in China.  One source alleged that Underwood might have been trying to provide bugging locations where Chinese officials could monitor conversations at the U.S. consulate.

It is unknown how much money Underwood allegedly was seeking from China for the photographs.  Calls to his attorney in the federal public defenders office were not returned. A court appearance will be set at a later date.