20-year-old Zhao Qianli took photographs of a navy base in the Florida Keys

A Chinese student has been sentenced to a year in jail for photographing a US military base.

NY Post reports that a 20-year-old Chinese student has been given a jail sentence of one year for illegally taking photographs of a US military installation in the Florida Keys.

Zhao Qianli is a musicology student who traveled to the US for a summer exchange program. He visited Key West when his studies finished in September 2018.

According to reports, Zhao entered the Joint Interagency Task Force South military property on 26 September 2018. Zhao claimed he got lost on the tourist trail and stumbled onto the high-security Naval Air Station.

The military facility is “one of the leading intelligence fusion centers in the world,” according to a US Navy video. Over 1,000 suspect targets are tracked at the base per day.

However, reports claim that Zhao gained access to the secured base “by circumnavigating the installation’s primary fence line, and entering the military property from the beach.”

The student also entered ‘the Farm’, which contains satellite dishes and antennas. The area reportedly contained multiple signs that the Farm was a ‘restricted area’, with plenty of ‘keep out’ signs and security fences.

Federal prosecutor Michael Sherwin said Zhao would have had to pass through water to bypass the security fence.

“The primary pictures on that camera were of the military facility,” Sherwin said. “It did not have the hallmark of a tourist who got lost and wandered onto a military facility.”

Zhao was arrested for trespassing and he pleaded guilty to one count of photographing defensc installations. He received the maximum sentence and reportedly expressed no remorse.

Hongwei Shang – Zhao’s attorney – insisted he was not a spy.

“A spy would not do things like him. There’s no proof … He committed a stupid mistake. He confessed to it. He just wants to go home,” she said.