This story has been updated with additional comments from Lt. Cmdr. Edward Lin’s family.
The defense team and family of the U.S. Navy officer accused of giving secrets to China and Taiwan are declaring his innocence and don’t want his case to go to court martial, according to a Monday statement provided to USNI News.
“We maintain that Lt. Cmdr. Edward “Eddy” Lin is innocent of espionage, innocent of failing to follow lawful orders, innocent of false official statements and innocent of violating the general article, Article 134, of the Uniform Code of Military Justice,” read the statement from former U.S. Air Force lawyer Larry Youngner to USNI News.
“While we await the convening authority’s decision as to whether to actually proceed to trial, it is our assessment that Lt. Cmdr. Lin’s case is best handled administratively.”
The Navy has accused Lin of two instances of espionage, three instances of attempted espionage in addition to traveling out of the country without permission, lying about the trip on his return, paying for prostitutes and adultery.
The statement from Youngner follows last week’s completion of the preliminary report of the case by the investigating officer.
According to former Marine lawyer Rob “Butch” Bracknell, the request to handle the case administratively means that the official in charge – U.S. Fleet Forces commander Adm. Phil Davidson – would forgo a court martial in favor of other options – like non-judicial punishment or pushing Lin out of the service.
“’Administrative’ is code for ‘something else that doesn’t involve court’,” Bracknell told USNI News.
“It would be ‘administrative’ to just suspend his clearance and reassign. Or to convene a [Board of Inquiry] to discharge him.”
The family of Lin, 39, also accused the government of sensationalizing the case by including “salacious” charges of adultery and paying for prostitutes to create a “tale of espionage, misdirection, and sexual perversion,” on a website created over the weekend to crowd-fund money for Lin’s defense.
“That’s not the Eddy Lin with whom and for whom you served in dangerous and austere environments,” read a statement posted on the site.
“That’s not the Eddy Lin you sent forward to carry out high impact/critical missions. Eddy is innocent of the alleged crimes with which the government has charged him. He is no spy for Taiwan or any other foreign country.”
Lin came to the U.S. as a teenager from Taiwan and joined the Navy as an enlisted sailor in 1999.
“The ‘Bring Eddy Home’ website is set up by his family,” read a Monday email sent to USNI News signed by “The Lin Family” from an address associated with the site.
“At this time, the family does not have more to comment beyond what’s on the website and the comment provided by Eddy’s civilian attorney, Larry Youngner.”
Military members charged with a crime are assigned counsel, but have the option to hire additional lawyers to represent them during legal proceedings. Fees for outside counsel can run tens of thousands of dollars depending on the length and complexity of the case.
Bringeddyhome.org was neither created nor officially affiliated with Youngner’s firm, a spokesperson told USNI News.
Before Lin was detained by NCIS on Sept. 11, 2015, he served as a department head for one of the Navy’s most secretive units – Special Projects Squadron Two “Wizards”(VPU-2) – based at Marine Corps Air Base Kaneohe, Hawaii. The Wizards fly specialized versions of the service’s P-3C Orion and P-8A Poseidon aircraft used for signals and electronic intelligence gathering. Prior to his Hawaii assignment, Lin was also a service congressional liaison and was privy the service’s secret black program portfolio.
The investigation around Lin has been declared a “national security case,” and early results of the investigation prompted a December alert to U.S. Navy leadership of a potential “national security incident” related to the release of classified materials.
Lin has been held in pre-trial confinement in the Naval Consolidated Brig in Chesapeake, Va. since he was detained.
The following is the complete May 2, 2016 statement from Larry Youngner provided to USNI News.
Statement from Tully Rinckey PLLC Attorney Larry Youngner on the Completed Article 32 Preliminary Hearing Report Regarding Navy Lt. Cmdr. Edward Lin
May 2, 2016 – Washington, D.C. – Following last week’s release of the Article 32 preliminary hearing officer’s report, we maintain that Lt. Cmdr. Edward “Eddy” Lin is innocent of espionage, innocent of failing to follow lawful orders, innocent of false official statements and innocent of violating the general article, Article 134, of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. While we await the convening authority’s decision as to whether to actually proceed to trial, it is our assessment that Lt. Cmdr. Lin’s case is best handled administratively “in a timely manner at the lowest appropriate level” as Rule for Court-Martial 306(b) allows. Should Lt. Cmdr. Lin’s case be referred to a court-martial, we request a speedy trial on the merits and look forward to defending Lt. Cmdr. Lin, who has honorably served the United States, to include combat tours, since 1998.