US Navy officer to face espionage charges

  • 14/05/2016
Lieutenant Commander Edward Lin (Reuters)
Lieutenant Commander Edward Lin (Reuters)

By Phil Stewart

A US Navy flight officer with knowledge of sensitive American intelligence collection methods will face a general court-martial on espionage charges, the Navy says.

Lieutenant Commander Edward Lin, who was born in Taiwan and later became a naturalised US citizen, was charged with communicating secret information "with intent or reason to believe it would be used to the advantage of a foreign nation."

The Navy has not disclosed what countries might have been the intended recipients of Lin's alleged activities.

But US officials, speaking to Reuters on condition of anonymity, have in the past singled out Taiwan and possibly China.

Lin's lawyer, Larry Youngner, on Friday (local time) said Lin was innocent of the charges.

The Navy decided not to prosecute Lin on charges of adultery and prostitution, which had been included on a redacted charge sheet previously seen by Reuters.

Youngner said he was pleased the Navy had dismissed those charges.

"Now that the remainder of Lt. Cmdr. Lin's case has been referred to a court-martial, we request a speedy trial on the merits," Youngner said.

Lin's family has also created a website claiming his innocence.

"He is no spy for Taiwan, China or any other foreign country," according to the family's website.

Lin, who has been in held in pre-trial confinement since September, is now at Navy Consolidated Brig in Chesapeake, Virginia.

His arraignment is scheduled for Tuesday at noon in Norfolk, Virginia.

He was a flight officer assigned to the Special Projects Patrol Squadron, with experience managing the collection of electronic signals from the EP3-E Aries II signals intelligence aircraft.

Information about how the US Navy carries out such signals collection operations could be highly valuable to a foreign government.

Lin enlisted in the Navy in 1999 and held a variety of positions over his 17-year carrier, including working on the staff of an assistant secretary of the Navy from 2012 to 2013.

He served on the Norfolk-based aircraft carrier Eisenhower from 2009 to 2010.