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US Navy officer charged with passing secrets to foreign nations

AFP , Monday 11 Apr 2016
US Navy Lt. Edward Lin
US Navy Lt. Edward Lin, a native of Taiwan, speaks about his path to American citizenship at a naturalization ceremony in Honolulu, Hawaii, in this U.S. Navy handout photo taken December 3, 2008. Lin, a U.S. Navy officer with access to sensitive U.S. intelligence, faces espionage charges over accusations he passed state secrets, possibly to China and Taiwan, a U.S. official told Reuters on Sunday. (Photo: REUTERS)

A decorated US Navy officer faces espionage and other charges after allegedly passing defense secrets to foreign nations -- including possibly Taiwan or China -- a US official said Monday.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the official told AFP the sailor is Lieutenant Commander Edward Chieh-Liang Lin, who has been in the Navy since 1999 and has won several awards including two Navy/Marine Corps Commendation Medals.

The Navy declined to confirm his identity, but provided a heavily redacted copy of a charge sheet that outlined four charges against an officer of Lin's rank.

According to the charge sheet, the suspect communicated "secret information relating to the national defense to representatives of a foreign government."

The official said Lin is accused of handing secret information over to at least one country, but it could have been "several," including China and Taiwan.

A Navy article from 2008 says Lin left his birthplace of Taiwan when he was 14 and eventually became a naturalized US citizen.

"Whether it is economical, political, social or religious reasons... by becoming a citizen of the United States of America, you did it to better your life and the life of your family," he was quoted as saying.

The charge sheet says the accused was assigned to the Navy's Commander Patrol and Reconnaissance Group, which gathers intelligence.

The officer is also accused of violating a lawful general order by "wrongfully failing to properly store material classified as secret."

A third charge alleges he lied about which foreign country he was going to visit while on leave, and he was also charged with procuring a prostitute and adultery, with "such conduct being to the prejudice of good order and discipline in the armed forces."

The Navy declined to disclose the accused's attorney, and additional attempts to find his lawyer were not immediately successful.

It was not clear how long Lin faces in prison if convicted. He appeared before a preliminary Article 32 hearing on Friday, during which a military court hears initial evidence in the case and then recommends to a commanding admiral whether or not it should be referred to a full court-martial.

Lin remains in custody at a naval brig in Chesapeake, Virginia.

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