After pleading guilty to federal espionage charges, Navy officer will serve six years in brig

Posted at 8:00 AM, Jun 01, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-02 19:53:28-04

NORFOLK, Va. - A judge has sentenced a Navy officer who pleaded guilty to federal espionage charges to nine years.

However, Lt. Cmdr. Lin accepted a plea deal earlier this month during a court martial trial at Naval Station Norfolk, which included a six-year confinement cap.

That means Lt. Cmdr. Lin will serve a six-year sentence with an additional three years suspended, pending he does not violate the terms of the agreement.

Under the plea deal, Lt. Cmdr. Lin is guilty of violating orders, making false statements and disclosing national defense information under the Federal Espionage Act.

He pleaded guilty to three specifications of Article 92 (violation of a lawful general order), two specifications of Article 107 (false official statement), and two specifications of Article 134.

Lt. Cmdr. Edward C. Lin's two-day hearing started Thursday.

After both sides provided sentencing evidence, Lt. Cmdr. Lin gave an unsworn statement.

He answered questions from his defense attorney, Larry Younger, while a slideshow of pictures portrayed his childhood, including growing up in a small, poor village in Taiwan.

He got very emotional when talking about the death of his mother.

Lt. Cmdr. Lin said it happened just before she was supposed to immigrate to the United States to join him, his father, and younger sister so they could live the "American Dream."

He also testified that his father did not respect his career in the military, as it is considered a waste of time in Taiwan.

When he joined the Navy, other than his younger sister, whom he stayed very close with, the only family he had was within the Navy.

Lt. Cmdr. Lin talked about other hardships throughout his life, including the fact that he was unable to have children with his former wife, and the divorce that followed.

Lin was asked about certain instances throughout his time in the Navy, at one point suggesting he might have been hazed during his time with a certain squadron, but Lin said he never had any animosity and truly loved the camaraderie.

During a court martial trial earlier in May, Lin told a judge he violated orders when he illegally transported a flight manifest and search and rescue codes in checked luggage during an international flight. Lin said the information was not secure and was discovered by a Homeland Security officer.

Instead of checking with command to see how he should handle the situation, Lin gave the documents to the officer and asked him to destroy them.

Lt. Cmdr. Lin said he also violated orders by keeping a notebook of secret national defense information at his home while he lived in Honolulu. Lin says he wrote down secret information from memory, and the notebook was not kept in a security approved container.

Lt. Cmdr. Lin said he violated orders again by failing to report some of his foreign connections, including a few Taiwanese high-ranking military officials and a Chinese female prison guard.

During his sentencing hearing on Thursday, an NCIS special agent talked in-depth about some of those communications. In one instance, he sent a power point about torpedo's to a high-ranking official.

He also admitted to lying in his leave request paperwork.

Originally, Lt. Cmdr. Lin told his supervisor he was planning to return to his home in Alexandria during his vacation. Instead, Lin traveled to Taiwan where he proceeded to meet with the "U.S. equivalent of the Chief of Naval Operations".

A second time, Lt. Cmdr. Lin tried to travel to China to visit the prison guard he was friendly with, but was arrested on espionage charges before he could get on the plane.

Lt. Cmdr. Lin also admitted to disclosing secret, classified national defense information to a Taiwanese woman working for a political party and an undercover FBI agent, whom he thought was a Taiwanese contractor.

On Friday, Lt. Cmdr. Lin accepted responsibility and admitted that his arrogance was what got him into trouble.

While getting emotional again, he apologized to the individual people he "let down," saying he's an "unworthy brother and friend."

He said he will "never be able to erase the pain and shame."

Younger argued that Lin's accepting of responsibility and pleading guilty, along with already spending 630 days in the Navy's Consolidated Brig in Chesapeake is a sufficient punishment.

He asked for a sentence of one year and four months, which would be canceled out by the time Lt. Cmdr. Lin has already served in the brig.

Prosecutor Captain Michael Luken argued that Lin should spend 12 years behind bars.

In sentence arguments, he said Lt. Cmdr. Lin violated his trust multiple times and was "supposed to be setting an example."

He argued that Lt. Cmdr. Lin knew information that could injure the United States and help an enemy and for that reason he still remains a danger.

The judge started deliberating just before 4 p.m. on Friday.

Previous Coverage: 

Navy officer accused of espionage accepts plea deal

Navy officer accused of espionage enters not guilty pleas to all charges