Navy Lt. Commander Edward Lin has been charged with giving “secret information relating to the national defense to a representative of a foreign government,” with “intent or reason to believe it would be used to the advantage of a foreign nation.”
According to NBC News, the intelligence in question was classified at the “Secret” level, one level below “Top Secret.” The military charging documents allege Lin had reason to believe this information “could be used to the injury of the United States or the advantage of a foreign nation.”
Lin’s unit oversaw Navy spy planes, “some of the Navy’s most advanced maritime surveillance aircraft,” according to The Washington Post.
A U.S. official told CBS News that Lin leaked details about the communications system of the EP-3E Reconnaissance aircraft to his foreign connections.
Although the heavily redacted charging documents do not specify the foreign power in question, there is much speculation in the media that it was China or Taiwan. (The Washington Post’s sources suggest that it might have been both China and Taiwan.)
The latter is Lin’s birthplace; he came to the United States at the age of 14 and became a naturalized citizen in 2008. He enlisted in the Navy in 1999 and was commissioned as a naval flight officer in 2002. He was actually arrested about eight months ago and is currently confined at the Naval Consolidated Brig in Chesapeake, Virginia, according to the Post.
The Washington Post recalls his telling a 2008 ceremony for new immigrants that he “always dreamed about coming to America, the ‘promised land'” and that he grew up “believing that all the roads in America lead to Disneyland.”
Lin was also charged with paying for a prostitute, committing adultery, and falsifying records. The most serious of the espionage charges against him potentially carry the death penalty.