Three Chinese Nationals Sentenced for Taking Photos at NAS Key West

Sunset scene at NAS Key West (file image courtesy USN)

Published Jun 15, 2020 2:11 PM by The Maritime Executive

Three young Chinese citizens have been sentenced to months-long jail terms after pleading guilty to charges of illegally taking photographs of military installations at U.S. Naval Air Station Key West. 

Lyuyou Liao, 27, was sentenced to the statutory maximum term of 12 months in prison and one year of supervised release after pleading guilty to illegally entering NAS Key West's Truman Annex and taking photographs and video footage. According to prosecutors, Liao obtained images of "vital military equipment" during his trespass on base. At the time of his arrest, Liao told investigators that he was attempting to photograph the sunset around the base's perimter.

In a separate case, Jielun Zhang, 25, and Yuhao Wang, 24, were sentenced to 12 months and nine months (respectively and one year of supervised release. The two students pleaded guilty to illegally entering NAS Key West on January 4, 2020 - just two weeks after Liao's visit to the base - and taking photographs of military and naval infrastructure at the Sigbsbee Park and Trumbo Point Annexes.

Yuhao Wang and Jielun Zhang entered NAS Key West's Sigsbee Annex after allegedly ignoring the instructions of the master-at-arms at the gate. The guard told them to turn around and depart, according to the FBI, but they drove past and into the base instead. It took another half an hour for base security to track down the errant visitors and question them. When questioned, both Zhang and Wang were found to be in possession of electronic devices containing photos of the buildings within the base, the FBI said. Zhang had also allegedly taken photos of buildings on Fleming Key - a restricted area that is home to the United States Army Special Forces Underwater Operations Training Center.

In an earlier incident in 2018, Chinese student Zhao Qianli, 20, was arrested by local police for taking photos of NAS Key West base facilities, including an antenna site and several government buildings. He pleaded guilty to a single charge of photographing defense installations and was sentenced to one year in prison.