The attorneys for the naval flight officer accused of passing secrets to a foreign government has accused the U.S. Navy and U.S. Fleet Forces of exerting their influence in “an aggressive media campaign,” against their client, according to a late June motion to a military judge to dismiss the case seen by USNI News.
The June 28 motion from the attorneys of Lt. Cmdr Edward Lin said that Fleet Forces officials at Naval Station Norfolk, Va. and Navy officials at the Pentagon, use of the media equate to a ‘Full Court Press,’ and have tainted the potential pool of members and witnesses affecting the ability of Lt. Cmdr. Lin to receive a constitutionally required fair trial,” read a portion of the motion seen by USNI News.
Lin, 39, is accused of two instances of espionage, three instances of attempted espionage and several instances of mishandling classified information and failing to report contact with foreign agents.
In order to prove the unlawful command influence, the defense seeks in-person testimony of Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson, Fleet Forces commander Adm. Philip Davidson, Chief of Naval Information (CHINFO) Rear Adm. Dawn Cutler and several officials at the Washington, D.C. Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office (TECRO) – Taiwan’s diplomatic arm in the U.S. – who refused to speak with the defense team following the media coverage.
Part of the defense’s claim for unlawful command influence included the decision of U.S. Fleet Forces and Pentagon officials to play an audio transcript of Lin’s April 8 Article 32 hearing for reporters in Washington and Norfolk. The April 8 hearing in Norfolk was not attended by any members of the media.
“All of this has come from the government, either the Pentagon, Navy spokespersons, Fleet Forces or even unnamed sources within the various commands,” read the motion.
“That is just further evidence of a continued taint on Lt. Cmdr. Lin, and that the Government and its agents are continuing to taint our members.”
Lin’s lawyers did not respond to a request for comment.
Navy Times reported on Sunday, “the government responded to the motion, arguing the defense failed to demonstrate evidence of a media campaign and said the public affairs response was entirely generated by queries from the media, including USNI News, which broke the story April 10, and Navy Times, which followed with its own story shortly thereafter,” read the report.
The paper reported the name of the operation against Lin, “Rouge Archer,” prompted by Lin’s travel to Asia and contact with Taiwanese officials included to the government’s response to the motion.
Before his detention, Lin served as a department head at the Navy’s secretive Special Projects Patrol Squadron Two ‘Wizards’ (VPU-2) which flew the services most sensitive surveillance aircraft the U.S. Navy use to ascertain the abilities of – for example – adversaries radar and weapon systems.
Most of the evidence of against Lin is classified Secret, but from the few details that have emerged from hearings and motions, what he alleged to have passed on to foreign agents is far less sensitive than the highest level secrets he knew.
Lin has been in an unusually long pre-trial confinement since his arrest in on Sept. 11, 2015 and is scheduled to have a hearing on if he can be released from the Naval Consolidated Brig in Chesapeake, Va. ahead of his late October trial.