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Espionage charges dropped against Naval officer in plea deal

Lt. Cmdr. Edward Lin pleaded guilty to the civilian version of the Espionage Act, as well as other charges.

By Ed Adamczyk
Espionage charges dropped against Naval officer in plea deal
Espionage charges against Lt. Cmdr. Edward Lin were dropped by the U.S. Navy after a plea bargain during a court martial. He pleaded guilty to violating the federal espionage Act, a lesser charge, and additional charges. Photo by MC1 Sarah Murphy/U.S. Navy

May 5 (UPI) -- Espionage charges against Lt. Cmdr. Edward Lin will be dropped when he pleads guilty to lesser charges, a plea agreement revealed by the U.S. Navy indicates.

Lin, a member of a covert aerial surveillance squadron in Hawaii, was arrested in 2015 as he boarded a flight to China. Investigators were concerned he was preparing to disclose secrets to a contact.

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Interrogation showed he only spoke of 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, the Navy Times reported.

Lin pleaded guilty to two counts of disclosing classified information, which is a violation of the federal Espionage Act and different from the military's version of the charge. He also pleaded guilty to violating general orders for failing to report foreign ties, mishandling classified information in two incidents and making false official statements. The plea agreement was revealed Thursday at his court-martial hearing at Naval Station Norfolk, Va. The hearing, planned for two weeks, was cut short after two days by the plea agreement.

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Lin still faces up to 36 years in prison. Sentencing was set for early June.

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