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Navy Officer Faces Court Martial on Suspicion of Espionage

Posted by Yancey Ellis | Jun 16, 2016 | 0 Comments

The U.S. Navy has announced that they will be pursuing charges of espionage against Navy Lt. Cmdr. Edward Lin. He has been accused of spying for China and Taiwan, passing military secrets to foreign agents and an FBI informant during a sting operation. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges of espionage and mishandling “Secret” information during an arraignment in a military court.

The 39-year-old, Taiwan-born naval officer was arrested on September 11, 2015, at the Honolulu International Airport as he was about to travel to Asia. He served as a flight officer with the Special Projects Patrol Squadron Two, which is involved in signal and electronic communication reconnaissance using Navy spy planes. He was taken into custody and held for eight months at the Naval Consolidated Brig in Chesapeake, Virginia.

His case first became public during a preliminary court hearing in Norfolk, Virginia in April. During the hearing, Navy prosecutors presented video evidence of Lin's interrogations. According to prosecutors, Lin admitted to passing along classified information to a foreign representative. However, Lin's attorney, Larry Younger, has challenged the evidence.

According to Younger, a retired Air Force judge advocate, the evidence should not be admitted into evidence because the investigators did not get a clear admission that Lin understood his rights against self-incrimination. “We maintain that Lt. Cmdr. Edward ‘Eddy' Lin is innocent of espionage,” said Younger, “innocent of failing to follow lawful orders, innocent of false official statements and innocent of violating the general article, Article 134, of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.”

Lt. Cmdr. Edward Lin faces violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). This includes violations of Articles 92 (wrongfully transporting classified material, failing to report the compromise of classified information, failing to properly store classified material, and failing to report contact with foreign agents); 106a (communicate secret information relating to the national defense to a representative of a foreign government, and attempted espionage); 107 (signed a false official record that failed to include foreign travel with the intent to deceive); and 134 (communicated information relative to national defense to a person not entitled to receive the information).

Admiral Phil Davidson, commander of the U.S. Fleet Forces Command referred the charges to a general court martial. The Navy has set a trial date of October 26 at Naval Station Norfolk. Charges of adultery and prostitution were dismissed without prejudice. These charges could be renewed for administrative punishment at a later time if the Navy elects to do so.

Younger has claimed that his client was entrapped. The investigation involved an FBI informant who was posing as a representative of a foreign power. Lin's attorney also claims that the information may not have had to be labeled as “Secret,” as much of the information could be found through other open sources.

Lin's family has created a website in defense of Lin's case. According to the website, Lin is innocent, he is not a spy, and his constitutional rights were not protected. His family had difficulty communicating with him and obtaining defense counsel for his defense. The website is seeking donations to help fund Lin's legal defense.

About the Author

Yancey Ellis

Yancey is a partner at Harris Carmichael & Ellis, PLLC. He is critical to our firm-wide mission of service to the indigent, upholding the Constitution, and guiding our clients through the criminal justice system. As a Marine Corps JAG reservist, Yancey also assists military service members and veterans with their special legal needs.           

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