Taiwan Born Naval Officer Charged With Espionage

Posted at 11:43 AM, Apr 11, 2016

A U.S. Naval officer who has been charged with espionage has been identified as Lt. Cmdr. Edward C. Lin, a Taiwanese-born flight officer assigned to a Naval reconnaissance unit. Lin was arrested eight months ago but his case did not become public until a pre-trial hearing this past Friday that will determine whether he will face a court martial.

A U.S. official confirmed to ABC News that Lin was the officer whose identity had been redacted in court documents presented at an Article 32 hearing held Friday in Norfolk, Virginia. USNI News was first to report Lin's identity in a posting Sunday.

The U.S. official told ABC News that preliminary indications point to possible espionage for either China or Taiwan, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service and the FBI are continuing to investigate the case.

Lin is currently assigned to Commander Patrol and Reconnaissance Group, a maritime patrol and reconnaissance unit in Norfolk that provides airborne anti-submarine warfare and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance using P-8A Poseidon aircraft, P-3 Orion aircraft and MQ-4 unmanned aircraft.

US Navy Officer Charged With Espionage
A U.S. official has told ABC News that Lin was arrested approximately eight months ago at an airport in the U.S. Pacific Command region while bound for a foreign country. He is being held at the Naval Consolidated Brig in Chesapeake, Virginia.

A 2008 Navy News article profiled Lin's naturalization ceremony when he became a U.S. citizen. Lin had been asked to speak at the ceremony and he described how he had emigrated to the U.S. from Taiwan at the age of 14.

The Article 32 was hearing held Friday in Norfolk to determine whether the case should proceed to a court martial. The hearing, vaguely referenced in a Navy court docket, was the first public confirmation of the case and was slated to last a day.

Charge sheets presented at an Article 32 hearing were heavily redacted and did not disclose the identity of the Naval officer nor where the alleged acts of espionage occurred.

According to the charge sheets, the officer has been charged with five counts of espionage and attempted espionage. The documents allege that on "divers occasions" the officer did "with intent or reason to believe it would be used to the advantage of a foreign nation, attempt to communicate SECRET information relating to the national defense to a representative of a foreign government."

He was also charged with four counts of a violation of a Lawful General Order by “wrongfully transporting material classified as SECRET." There were also seven counts of violating Article 134 of the UCMJ for communicating defense information "to a person not entitled to receive said information," patronizing a prostitute and adultery. These specifications also note that he signed a leave request with a false address "rather than the actual foreign destination."

"We cannot provide additional information at this time given that the investigation is ongoing," Navy spokesman Lt. Commander Tim Hawkins said when asked for further details.

The case has been designated a national security case, which is why the Navy’s Fleet Forces Command is the convening authority.

It is unclear when the presiding officer in the case will make a recommendation as to whether the case should move to trial.