Taiwan-born US Navy officer to stand trial for ‘espionage & prostitution’

A P-8A Poseidon surveillance plane conducts flyovers above the Enterprise Carrier Strike Group © Daniel J. Meshel
A Taiwanese US naval officer has been charged with espionage, attempted espionage, communicating secret information on national defense to a foreign state, presumably China, as well as prostitution and adultery.

The suspect, who is believed to hold the rank of lieutenant commander, was detained at the airport as he was attempting to flee the US to a foreign state, a source with knowledge of the investigation told CNN.

The charging sheet suggests that the suspect served in the Commander Patrol and Reconnaissance Group, which provides surveillance, warfare, and maritime intelligence for operating a number of aircrafts, including the P-8A Poseidon, P-3C Orion and MQ-4C Triton.

The Taiwan native stands accused of transferring confidential information to representatives of a foreign government “with intent or reason to believe it to be used to the advantage of a foreign nation,” failing to report to the US Navy about travelling to a foreign country, and subsequently falsifying records. He has also been charged with violating the military’s good order and discipline guidelines by “engaging in acts of sexual intercourse for hire” and entering into a sexual relationship with “a woman not his wife.”

Naval authorities declined to identify the officer in question, citing “service member’s privacy,” which is to be protected until it is decided if the case is to be referred to a martial court, said US Navy spokesman Lieutenant Commander Timothy Hawkins, as cited by the Washington Post. 

However, the officer, whose name was redacted from the charging sheet published by the US Naval Institute (USNI) on Friday, was later identified as Lieutenant Commander Edward C. Lin in a USNI news report confirmed by an unnamed US official.

The source told the paper that the suspect’s name had been included in a press release from September 2008, in which Lin spoke about his path to becoming a US citizen, encouraging some 80 naturalized Americans to follow his example in establishing a successful career and serving his country.

“I always dreamt about coming to America, the ‘promised land,’" he said, recalling his childhood in Taiwan, which he left at the age of 14 when his family immigrated to the US.

“I grew up believing that all the roads in America lead to Disneyland,” he added, stating that, for him, the reason to become a US citizen was “to better your life and the life of your family.” 

During the naturalization ceremony, Lin repeatedly praised the US military and Constitution, calling on future servicemen to protect their new nation “her people and the Constitution, which guarantees our way of life.”

The investigation into the high-profile espionage case has been conducted by the Naval Criminal Investigative Committee and the FBI.

The suspect has been awaiting trial at the Naval Consolidated Brig in Chesapeake, Virginia, Newsweek reported.