Home » Military Personnel » Navy Charges Maritime Recon Officer with Espionage in Rare ‘National Security Case’

Navy Charges Maritime Recon Officer with Espionage in Rare ‘National Security Case’

The interior of the Naval Consolidated Brig Chesapeake, Va.

The interior of the Naval Consolidated Brig Chesapeake, Va.

The Navy has charged an active-duty maritime reconnaissance officer with passing U.S. military secrets to a foreign government, service officials told USNI News.

On Friday, the service outlined several charges – espionage being the most serious — against an unidentified lieutenant commander during an Article 32 hearing in Norfolk.

Typically, as part of the military Article 32 charging process, an accused service member is identified in court-martial documents. But the service is not releasing the information in this instance because “this has been designated a ‘National Security Case’,” a Navy official told USNI News on Friday.

“A ‘National Security Case ’ is one which: to any serious degree, involves the compromise of a military or defense advantage over any foreign nation or terrorist group; involves an allegation of willful compromise of classified information, affects our military or defense capability to successfully resist hostile or destructive action, overt or covert; or involves an act of terrorism,” according to a manual of trying classified military cases.

The cases are tried under an additional set of rules than normal courts-martial due to the sensitivity of the evidence involved in the proceedings.

When contacted by USNI News, U.S. Fleet Forces spokesman Capt. Jack Hanzlik did neither release the name of the officer nor any other details of the case.

Another Navy official told USNI News, “NCIS and FBI are still investigating the details of this case and therefore we cannot provide any additional details at this time.”

Though heavily redacted — without dates or locations — the charging document spins a narrative in which the accused allegedly transported secret information out of the country without permission and then lied about his whereabouts when he returned to duty. The charging documents allege the O-4 successfully committed espionage twice and attempted espionage on three other occasions.

Service officials also did not specify the country to which to which the officer passed along the secrets or to which he traveled.
“I could not tell you out of respect for the ongoing investigation,” the official said.

In addition to the accusations related to transmitting secrets to a foreign power, the officer was also accused of violating military law by patronizing prostitutes and committing adultery.

The lieutenant commander is currently in pre-trial confinement at the Naval Consolidated Brig Chesapeake, Va. and is currently assigned to commander, Patrol and Reconnaissance Group, according to the service.

Maritime surveillance is an increasingly important national naval asset as potential U.S. adversaries like Russia and China have grown in military strength and sophistication.

In the last several years the U.S. has introduced several new aerial surveillance platforms, notably the Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime surveillance aircraft and the unmanned Northrop Grumman MQ-4C Triton long-range surveillance aircraft. Both aircraft are key to the U.S. military rebalance to the Western Pacific.

The last major incident of espionage by an active duty member of the Navy was the case of John Walker – a Navy warrant officer and submariner who for 18 years passed reams of military secrets to the Soviet Union before he was finally caught in 1985.


  • Sounds better than the TV series JAG and NCIS

  • dfw63

    When the Fed announces a “National Security Case”, my antenna immediately reads, cover up.

    • Curtis Conway

      Especially if it’s NOFORN WINTEL and has to do with a Executive Branch Cabinet member?

      • Benyamin Tover

        Oh, Hellary’s material was much higher than that, code-worded spec’ access shiite. But…the Poseur and Thief will give her a pardon, you can bet your assets on that one.

        • Curtis Conway

          Agreed. My point was NORFORN WINTEL is not classified AFTER the fact.

  • MothNM

    Since 1985 Snowden passed military secrets to the press where anyone could read whatever the press decided to publish. Or is surveillance not military?

  • Ed L

    Cover up ? Hmmm. I think many of us remember the walker case. In my opinion he should gotten dropped out of a C-130 at 10,000 feet

  • Why does author Sam LaGrone claim that “the last major incident of espionage by an active duty member of the Navy was the case of John Walker” when in fact it was the case of Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard? In the words of Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger, “It is difficult for me, even in the so-called year of the spy, to conceive of a greater harm to national security than that caused by the defendant [Jonathan Pollard]”

    • Pollard was a Navy civilian, we’ve written on the case extensively.

  • rscarmean

    It is almost impossible to understand this…. Flush this turd directly to life in Leavenworth or hanging, save us some defense dollars…

  • C.D. Austin Tx.

    follow the money..

  • WRBaker

    It looks like the Chinese needed an update – remember when they forced an EP-3 to land in their country in April 2001? It was some time before the plane was released back then.

  • Roger Settlemyer

    Walker did it for Money,Lin did it for Money an Pollard did it to help Israel. All three should be punished in a way to set an example. 20 YEARS TO LIFE is the easy way out. My way is a Firing Squad.

  • agnosic1

    Thank you USNI. So little press on this! When did the American media start getting skittish about reporting on alleged spies?