SAN DIEGO — Twenty-two-year-old Jinchao Wei, a U.S. Navy sailor based in San Diego, faced a judge in a federal courtroom Tuesday.

The judge agreed with the motion Wei is a flight risk and danger to the community.

Wei is being held without bail and without prejudice. He faces charges of espionage for allegedly conspiring with the Chinese government and is accused of selling sensitive photos, videos and manuals of U.S. ships to the Chinese government since February 2022.

According to authorities, Wei made about half his salary for selling the information to China. The prosecuting attorney also estimated he made between $10,000 and $15,000, though the exact amount has not been made public.

In court Tuesday, the prosecuting attorney alleged that Wei’s mother, who lives in Wisconsin, knew and supported what he was doing and had allegedly suggested he work for the Chinese Communist Party once out of the Navy. The attorney could not state whether or not Wei’s mom will face any charges in connection to this incident.

The attorney alleged in the courtroom that Wei would communicate with the Chinese “handler” through a secure portal and that at one point, Wei allegedly sent the Chinese government 10,000 pages of information about the Navy ships and in return was paid $6,000.

He allegedly sent over photos and manuals of many other ships other than the U.S.S. Essex that he had been working aboard. He allegedly sent the power structure of the Essex, technical manuals, weapons manuals, damage control and other important information impacting 1,200 sailors solely aboard the Essex. However, the attorney said the information he allegedly sent to China impacted more vessels than ones stationed in San Diego and sailors aboard every ship China now has information about is “at risk.”

The attorney alleged every time Wei received extra training he would sent the information to his Chinese handler. The Chinese handler had Wei allegedly purchase a phone and computer, and he was reimbursed.

Wei had allegedly been looking up flights to China, part of the reason he was deemed a flight risk.

No cameras were allowed in the courtroom, but reporters noted Wei appeared to be smirking while inside the courtroom.

The defense had claimed Wei was not a danger to the public since he no longer had access to the information.

Wei will be back in court on August 21 for a motion hearing.

While Wei faces federal charges in San Diego, another Navy sailor, 26-year-old Petty Officer Wenheng Zhao, is facing similar charges in Los Angeles.

Javed Ali, a professor at University of Michigan, and a former senior counterterrorism analyst with the FBI said the information China now has theoretically gives them an advantage.

“The information that allegedly got passed by the two Chinese American sailors to their Chinese-intelligence officers was very sensitive controlled information that most likely deals with the technical aspect of U.S. Navy ships, equipment,” he said to FOX 5 on Tuesday.

Ali said China has been running an intelligence collection campaign against the U.S., and using spies like Wei and Zhao is just one of the ways they have recently been collecting information.

“They also have engaged in a much different type of campaign where the public never sees the results where they use cyber methods to infiltrate computer networks either in the government or private companies here and that is something where China has been able to transform its economy, its military, gain an advantage,” Ali said.

Ali said whatever the U.S. is doing in response to China’s spy efforts doesn’t seem to be working.

“This is one of the tough questions right now, is what will it take for the U.S. to finally roll back this really aggressive campaign that China has launched for several years now and I don’t think anybody really know the answer to that,” Ali added.

Wei faces 20 years to life in prison if convicted.