Shriver’s experience was dramatized in the short film Game of Pawns, produced by the Counter-Intelligence Unit of the FBI and released online in April 2014. One of the film’s goals was to warn students of dangers in China. It featured the actor Joshua Murray as Shriver.
Adam Taylor of The Washington Post described it as “strikingly cheesy, obviously low-budget”. Emily Rauhala of TIME described it as “a bit of a stinker” that “comes off as cross between a public service announcement and a parody.” Rauhala concluded that since the film had a “stereotypical view of China” it meant that “the people behind it, like Shriver, seem well-intentioned but unforgivably naive.”
Within the film the Washington, D.C. Chinatown is used as a stand-in for Shanghai.
Arrest and conviction:
In June 2010 Shriver was arrested while trying to depart Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport for South Korea and charged with five counts of “making false statements” and one count of “willfully conspiring to provide national defense information to intelligence officers of the PRC”. He was denied bail and prosecuted by Stephen M. Campbell, a United States attorney in Alexandria, Virginia.
Shriver was facing up to 10 years in prison under Section 793, but the prosecutor had also threatened him with a prosecution under Section 794 which had a maximum of life imprisonment. Shriver pleaded guilty in October 2010 to one count of conspiracy to commit unlawful conveyance of national defense information as part of a plea bargain which included a full debriefing and polygraph testing. On January 21, 2011 he was sentenced to four years in prison by judge Liam O’Grady.
At the time of Shriver’s arrest the case only attracted media attention in Michigan.
Shriver had met with his handlers about 20 times, most often “Amanda”, and taken $70,000. Shriver said “I made a terrible decision. Somewhere along the way I got into bed with the wrong people. I cannot tell you what it’s like to carry a dark secret like this for so many years.” Professor Geling Shang, one of the leaders of Shriver’s summer study group, had worried that Shriver had no sense of what he wanted to do with his life. Shriver stated that he had been motivated by greed. He served his sentence at the Federal Correctional Institution near Elkton, Ohio, with Kim saying she would wait for him.
Wang Baodong, speaking for the Chinese embassy in Washington, said the Chinese government does not do anything to harm the interests of other countries and that the allegations against Shriver will be proven false. This is the normal comment by the Chinese government in cases of foreign espionage. Between March 2008 and July 2010, 44 individuals were convicted by the United States Department of Justice in 26 cases involving espionage on behalf of China. According to David Wise of The Washingtonian, Shriver was the first known case in which China tried to recruit an American to set up as a mole within the CIA, although the method has been attempted by other countries.
Shriver was released from federal prison in late 2013.
By FBI Counterintelligence Division and the Washington Field Office [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons