Don’t Be a Pawn: A Warning to Students Abroad

Former American college student Glenn Duffie Shriver studied abroad in Shanghai, People’s Republic of China.

Video Transcript

Narrator: Former American college student Glenn Duffie Shriver studied abroad in Shanghai, People’s Republic of China.

There, he became a target of Chinese intelligence services and crossed the line when he agreed to participate in espionage-type activity.

He pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit espionage for a foreign government and was sentenced to a four-year term in federal prison.

The following are excerpts from a prison cell interview where Shriver tells his own story, and warns U.S. students about the foreign intelligence threat.

Glenn Duffie Shriver: We would meet, talk for a while, and the strong majority of the talk was you know harmless, “Oh you know, so what’s going on with you these days? Oh, is your family well?” Sometimes we would meet in a very nice penthouse of a hotel.

The biggest thing was how friendly they were you know just, “Hey no problem, you want some money? It’s okay, hey don’t worry, we just want to be friendly with you, we’re friends, it’s important for China and America to have strong relations, and the more people who are friends the better off that will be.” And at that point I kind of realized wow I can just go to Shanghai, they’ll give me a huge wad of Chinese money when I get there and then when I leave they’ll give me another huge wad of American currency. The motivation behind it was definitely greed and money. You know when you’re having money thrown at you especially when you’re at a place like Shanghai, you know, it’s a hard tap to turn off.

They say everyone has their price, and you know, when you’re being told “Hey. you don’t have to do anything about it…we just want to be your friend. Here’s $10,000, no big deal.” That’s hard to say no to. Recruitment’s going on. Don’t fool yourself. The recruitment is active, and the target is young people. Throw lots of money at them, see what happens.

Through the time they kept telling me hey you know we don’t want anything illegal from you, we’re not asking for anything illegal you know, at the same time they were telling hey maybe it would be best not to talk about us meeting with each other, things like that. Once they’ve got you on video taking that money whatever happens is they’ve got you, there’s no going back from that. You’re either going to have to do what they say or go through something very horrible.

If someone is telling you that they’re really interested in what you’re going to be doing in a few years in the future that might be an idea that they don’t necessarily want you to work for them in a legitimate way because if someone who wants to recruit you for a job right now is going to be asking what you’re doing now.

If someone gives you a business card and all it has on it is a phone number and a name that shows they’re trying to conceal something, I do remember getting one of those, you know just a name and a phone number.

If someone is offering you money and it feels like you don’t have to do anything for that money then there’s probably a hook in there that you’re not seeing. If you’re meeting with someone and they ask you not to talk about the meeting that probably means you shouldn’t be doing it. Just keep thinking, asking yourself those questions, what am I doing, who are these people, how is this going to affect me? And if you don’t like the answers you’re getting get out of the situation. Awareness, a keen awareness is the most powerful weapon.

It’s a dangerous world out there and once you get outside of America you don’t understand exactly what this country does for you to protect you and to keep that type of behavior away from you. You know we live in a very sheltered society and when you go out among the wolves, the wolves are out there. Someone who commits espionage is someone who takes the highest level of trust and betrays that, espionage is a very big deal, very big deal, you’re dealing with people’s lives and that’s why it’s such a big deal.

Conspiracy to commit espionage carries a life term but what they’ve given is espionage and for the most part you know whether I accept it or not that’s how I’m going to be seen and it doesn’t matter really how you feel, it matters how others see you, so it’s a moniker that I’ll fight for the rest of my life but that’s something I’ve done, it’s part of my life, I’ll never be able to change that.

I’ll never be able to work for the U.S. government. Probably a lot of the major businesses will not be interested in hiring me. There are definitely a lot of negative effects associated with being a felon. And, that’s a stigma I’m going to have to, you know, beat down.

Narrator: Watch a 28-minute video depicting the true story of Glenn Duffie Shriver on

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