Navy officer accused of passing classified information
WASHINGTON, D.C.-- A U.S. Navy officer is charged with espionage, accused of spying for Taiwan and possibly China.
The officer has been in the brig since his arrest in September.
Investigators suspect Lt. Cmdr. Edward Lin started spying in 2012 when he was assigned to the Pentagon as a Navy liaison officer to Capitol Hill. In that job, he had access to details of the Navy's present and future spending plans.
In 2014, he was transferred to Hawaii, where he joined the special projects patrol squadron, a secretive unit which flies high priority electronic eavesdropping missions off the coast of China and other countries in the Pacific. In that job, he had first hand knowledge of sensitive intelligence operations.
According to heavily redacted court documents, Lin passed information classified "secret" to "representatives of a foreign government."
The documents do not name any country, but investigators believe he was passing classified information to both mainland China and the island of Taiwan. That would amount to playing both sides of the street since Taiwan is an American ally while China is increasingly an adversary.
Lin was born in Taiwan, but left at the age of 14, speaking only Chinese. He became a U.S. citizen and enlisted in the Navy, training to serve aboard nuclear powered submarines. But then he switched specialties to become a naval flight officer in a reconnaissance squadron.
"Throughout his career he had access to sensitive information," one officer said.
The Navy showcased him as a coming to America success story and he once told an audience "I grew up believing that all the roads in America lead to Disneyland."
Instead they led to a Navy brig in Virginia, where he is being held until the Navy decides whether it has enough evidence to court martial him. If convicted, the maximum penalty is death.
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