Navy Spy to face Closed Court Hearings

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What is the status of Lt. Cmdr. Edward Lin’s espionage case?

As was widely reported, a Navy officer born in Taiwan has been charged with passing secrets to a foreign government. Lt. Cmdr. Edwin Lin is facing multiple counts of espionage, communicating defense information and making false statements. Lin was assigned to the Norfolk-based Commander Patrol and Reconnaissance Group and is currently being held in the Navy’s brig in Chesapeake, Virginia.

Lin already faced an Article 32 hearing and the hearing’s officer will soon determine whether his case will proceed to a court-martial. Before his arrest last year, the lieutenant commander had been assigned to Special Projects Patrol Squadron 2 in Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii. The unit conducts highly classified missions with aircrafts outfitted with sophisticated spying equipment. He is suspecting with passing secrets to a country in the Asia-Pacific region, either his native Taiwan  or China.

Now, because of the sensitive nature of these missions, the Navy has announced it will be prosecuting Lin in closed court proceedings.

“Much of the disposition of this case will be done in classified venues,” said Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson

Admiral Richardson said the military is looking to avoid unwanted publicity of sensitive military operations.  In addition, officials believe that bringing the case in an open courts-martial would reveal sources and methods of the military’s intelligence capabilities as well as the secret activities it has been conducting. There is also the potential of a diplomatic crisis if a foreign government learned specifics of these activities.

The question remains, however, as to whether the case will remain in the military justice system. Some observers argue that, given the international and domestic consequences of the allegations, Federal court would be the appropriate venue. While such proceedings would be public, the court would be closed once prosecutors introduce evidence or testimony containing national secrets or other classified information.

In addition to the espionage and other offenses, he also faces charges of adultery and patronizing prostitutes. Lin moved to the U.S. when he was 14 and was finally naturalized in 2008 after he had been serving in the Navy. While the final resolution of this matter remains to be seen, Lin is entitled to a defense in either a military trial or Federal court proceeding, and the sensitive nature of this case is best handled by a seasoned court-martial attorney.

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