Spy Charges Leveled At U.S. Navy Officer Who Worked In Reconnaissance

Apr 11, 2016
Originally published on April 11, 2016 10:01 am

A naval officer faces charges that range from espionage to adultery in a case involving the U.S. Navy's Patrol and Reconnaissance Group, which collects signals intelligence. Both the FBI and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service are investigating the officer, identified as Lt. Cmdr. Edward Lin.

Lin "wrongfully transported material classified as Secret" and didn't report that material being compromised; he's also accused of failing to report foreign contacts, according to a charging document that emerged after a preliminary hearing Friday.

That charge sheet is heavily redacted, with black bars placed over names and dates. But U.S. officials confirmed Lin's identity after reports emerged that an active-duty naval officer has been held in a brig in Virginia for eight months after being arrested on charges of spying for a foreign power.

In all, Lin faces two counts of espionage and three of attempted espionage, five counts of communicating defense information and three counts of making false official statements about his whereabouts on leave. (The document says Lin didn't report foreign travel.)

He also faces charges of patronizing prostitution and adultery; the official document says the suspect is married.

Lt. Cmdr. Nicole Schwegman, a Navy spokeswoman, tells NPR's Mary Louise Kelly that the service can't provide exact information about what Lin is accused of "because the case is still under investigation."

Lin is a native of Taiwan. His family left that country when he was 14 and he became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1999, according to a profile written for the U.S. Navy's website in late 2008. He was "a signals intelligence specialist on the Navy's Lockheed Martin EP-3E Aries II reconnaissance aircraft," says USNI News, which was the first media outlet to report Lin's identity.

That Navy profile from 2008 described Lin as being based in Hawaii, one of the areas where the Patrol and Reconnaissance Group operates. The group has several tasks, ranging from anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare to collecting maritime intelligence.

Lin "speaks fluent Mandarin and had been a department head for the Hawaii-based Special Projects Patrol Squadron Two 'Wizards' (VPU-2) that flew EP3-E Aries II signals intelligence aircraft," USNI News reports, adding that his job was to manage the collection of electronic signals.

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