June 3 (UPI) -- A naval flight officer who pleaded guilty in May to disclosing classified information will spend six years in prison, a military judge in Virginia ruled.
Cmdr. Robert Monahan said Friday that in addition to the time behind bars -- with 646 days of time served credit -- Lt. Cmdr. Edward Lin, 40, will be dismissed from the Navy. He faced up to nine years in prison.
In early May, Lin's espionage charges under the Uniform Code of Military Justice were dropped when he pleaded guilty to lesser ones under the Espionage Act. He also pleaded guilty to failure to report his foreign contacts, mishandling classified information and making false statements about his travel plans.
Investigators arrested Lin, a member of a covert aerial surveillance squadron, in Hawaii as he boarded a flight to China. They were concerned he was preparing to disclose secrets to a contact.
Interrogation revealed Lin gave classified information to members of Taiwan's diplomatic circle, but a Naval Criminal Investigative Service investigation disputed Lin's early statements and learned the trip to China was a pleasure trip to meet a woman he met online. The investigation showed little correlation between Lin's actions and sensational headlines in early 2016 suggesting he was a spy for China and trading sex for secrets.
A deposition by a former Taiwanese naval officer, Justin Kao, also showed that Lin offered no classified information.
"While this case didn't turn out to be related to foreign intelligence -- not really a 'spy' case -- the sentence sends a strong message to the force about taking care to safeguard classified and sensitive information," Rob "Butch" Bracknell, a former Marine and military lawyer, told USNI News on Friday.
Prior to his sentencing Friday at Naval Station Norfolk, Lin told the judge he was careless with classified information and had tried to impress women with the information he knew.
"I'm physically ill when I think about what could have happened because of what I said," he said. "I'm exhausted and broken in spirit. The best thing I can do is serve as a cautionary tale to others."