US Navy Officer Accused of Spying for China and Taiwan

Lt. Commander Edward Lin a Taiwanese-born flight officer, officials said.

ByABC News
April 11, 2016, 2:46 PM

— -- A Taiwan-born United States Navy officer who has been charged with espionage said he "always dreamt about coming to America, the 'promised land,'" according to an article in which he recounted his naturalization ceremony when he was 14 years old.

Lt. Commander Edward Lin is accused of spying for both China and Taiwan, a U.S. official confirmed to ABC News today.

Lin, a Taiwanese-born flight officer assigned to a Naval reconnaissance unit, was arrested 8 months ago, has been charged with espionage, officials said.

His case did not become public until a pre-trial hearing this past Friday that will determine whether he will face a court martial.

Lin was assigned to a Special Project Patrol Squadron (VPU-2) based in Kaneohe, Hawaii, at the time that he was arrested eight months ago while readying to travel to a foreign country. According to charge sheets released at Friday's hearing, Lin had falsely listed his travel destination.

The charge sheets did not disclose the time period of his alleged espionage or the foreign power to which he was allegedly providing secret information. However, a U.S. official has told ABC News that Lin was providing secret information to both China and Taiwan. The Naval Criminal Investigative Service and the FBI are continuing to investigate the case, the official said.

The squadron in which Lin served as a Naval Flight Officer flies the EP-3 Orion variant that is used specifically for electronic signals intercepts.

Lin joined the Navy in 1999 as an enlisted sailor and was commissioned as an officer three years later after completing Officer Candidate School. He later completed training as a Naval Flight Officer for reconnaissance units. He served one tour at the Pentagon assigned to the Navy Comptroller's office.

In 2008 Lin was profiled in a Navy News story that recounted his remarks at the ceremony where he became a naturalized U.S. citizen. Lin said he had immigrated with his parents from Taiwan at the age of 14 and that he had struggled with the language barrier.

"I always dreamt about coming to America, the 'promised land,'" he was quoted as saying at the ceremony. "I grew up believing that all the roads in America lead to Disneyland."

In his remarks, Lin also addressed nine other U.S. military members who were becoming U.S. citizens thanking them for their service in safeguarding their new nation, "her people and the Constitution, which guarantees our way of life."

"You have recognized that not only do citizens have rights, but citizens also have responsibilities," he added. "The responsibility you are performing even now as non-U.S. citizen.

Lin faces five counts of espionage and attempted espionage. The documents allege that on "diverse occasions" the officer did "with intent or reason to believe it would be used to the advantage of a foreign nation, attempt to communicate SECRET information relating to the national defense to a representative of a foreign government."

He was also charged with four counts of a violation of a Lawful General Order by “wrongfully transporting material classified as SECRET." There were also seven counts of violating Article 134 of the UCMJ for communicating defense information "to a person not entitled to receive said information," patronizing a prostitute and adultery. These specifications also note that he signed a leave request with a false address "rather than the actual foreign destination."

The case has been designated a national security case, which is why the Navy’s Fleet Forces Command is the convening authority.

It is unclear when the presiding officer in the case will make a recommendation as to whether the case should move to trial.