Navy Lt. Cmdr. accused of espionage confesses on tape

(Photo courtesy U.S. Navy)

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Lieutenant Commander Edward C. Lin, the Taiwan born U.S. Navy officer accused of espionage, confessed to the crime during an NCIS interrogation, according to military prosecutors.

But his defense attorney argued none of that would be admissible if the case moves to court-martial.

The information came to light Thursday, as Navy officials played an audio recording of Lin’s Article 32 Hearing which took place in early April. The recording was played at Fleet Forces Command for members of the media, including 10 On Your Side, but media were not allowed to record the audio.

During the 80-minute hearing, which is similar to a pre-trial hearing in a civilian court. Attorneys for both sides submitted evidence to Navy Commander Bruce Gregor.

Lin is charged with two counts of espionage, three counts of attempted espionage, communicating secret information ‘with intent or reason to believe it would be used to the advantage of a foreign nation’ and adultery. The charges stem from actions the Navy says occurred in August and September of 2015.

Navy prosecutor, Cmdr. Jonathan Stevens told Gregor Lin is accused of feeding secrets to a prostitute, and also came into contact with under cover FBI agents, as well a FBI informant. The recordings did not make it clear if the prostitute and the FBI’s informant were the same person.

We also learned that NCIS agents searched Lin’s workplace and his home. They found emails dating back to 2012 and a notebook they say contained classified information.

Stevens also said Lin communicated with a FBI informant in Mandarin Chinese, which is his native language. Lin’s civilian defense attorney, Larry Younger, questioned the validity of the transcript of the conversation. The transcript was submitted as evidence saying that whomever the FBI chose to translate the conversation, could have gotten it wrong. The defense claims that because Mandarin Chinese has two dialects, the meaning of the conversation could be misinterpreted.

Lin was arrested at a Honolulu airport on September 11th, 2015. NCIS investigators then interrogated Lin for eleven hours, all of which was recorded according to prosecutors. They submitted nine disks of evidence which they say contain all eleven hours of recordings. Those were also not played during the hearing.

While it appears Lin confessed to the crimes, his attorney argued none of it will be admissible if the case goes to court-martial. Younger counted the government’s claims and went so far as to accuse officials of entrapment. Younger called actions by the FBI agents a ‘nefarious scheme to entrap’ and that agents ‘preyed on his vulnerabilities’ when they allegedly ‘coerced’ Lin to communicate with the informant.

Younger also said that if the case moves forward he would file motions to suppress all eleven hours of audio recordings in which Lin allegedly admits to the crimes. Younger says his client was never properly read his rights, or notified of his right to counsel. He believes the audio would not be admissible in court. Younger also argued that the search of Lin’s property may have been done without proper search warrants, and that any evidence gathered would also be inadmissible.

Younger also claimed that any information Lin passed on to the informant was ‘open-source’ information, meaning information that was no longer classified and could be found on-line.

The decision to move the case forward sits in the hands of Admiral Davidson, head of Fleet Forces Command. There is no timeline on his decision. If convicted, Lin could face the death penalty.

Lin has been held in pre-trial confinement at the Brig in Chesapeake since September.

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