Home » Aviation » Edward Lin Will Serve 6 Years for Mishandling Classified Information, Not Reporting Foreign Contacts


Edward Lin Will Serve 6 Years for Mishandling Classified Information, Not Reporting Foreign Contacts

Lt. Cmdr. Edward Lin

A previous version of the post erroneously deleted a quote from former military lawyer Rob “Butch” Bracknell. The quote has been restored, USNI News apologizes for the error.

NAVAL STATION NORFOLK, Va. — A Navy officer who pleaded guilty to mishandling classified information and not reporting foreign contacts will serve 6 years of confinement and will be dismissed from the Navy, a military judge ruled in a Friday sentencing hearing.

Lt. Cmdr. Edward Lin, 40, was sentenced to a nine-year sentence with the last three years suspended as part of a pre-trial agreement with the government. Along with a 646-day credit for time served in pre-trial confinement, Lin could be released from the brig in about four years.

He pleaded guilty last month to mishandling classified information, not reporting foreign contacts and putting U.S. destinations on leave requests when he had planned to leave the country.

The admission of guilt was part of a plea arrangement reached in April between the defense team and prosecutors.

In exchange for admitting to the lesser charges, Lin did not face two instances of espionage and three instances of attempted espionage, which were the most serious charges the government preferred last April.

Instead, the government charged Lin under Federal law in communicating secret information with a U.S. citizen who worked for Taiwanese political party and an undercover FBI agent.

“While this case didn’t turn out to be related to foreign intelligence — not really a ‘spy’ case — the sentence sends a strong message to the force about taking care to safeguard classified and sensitive information,” Rob “Butch” Bracknell, a former Marine and military lawyer, told USNI News on Friday.”It also invites comparison to other more high profile classified and sensitive information cases in Washington, and it may be fair criticism that senior folks are handled with kid gloves compared to rank and file personnel.”

Lin, by his own admission before a military judge, was sloppy with handling classified information and arrogantly attempting to impress women with information he knew.

“I get physically ill when I think about the damage I could have caused from my actions,” Lin said on Friday.
“I’m exhausted and broken in spirit. The best thing I can do is serve as a cautionary tale to others.”

Federal officials began investigating Lin in early 2014 based on an FBI tip that he may have been sharing sensitive information with foreign agents, NCIS Special Agent Chris Mitchum told the court on Thursday.

The Navy and the Department of Justice then mounted a joint NCIS/FBI investigation into Lin’s foreign contacts with a focus on the year he worked in Washington, D.C. Lin served on the staff of Vice Adm. Joseph Mulloy, then the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Financial Management and Comptroller. Lin had previously served as Mulloy’s aide during a tour at U.S. Pacific Fleet in from mid-2007 to early 2009.

During the investigation, the FBI and NCIS had combed through Lin’s personal and Navy emails and found he had developed a close relationship with Cmdr. Justin Kao of the Taiwanese Navy, a military officer attached to the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office (TECRO) in the United States – Taiwan’s embassy equivalent in the U.S.

Lin did not report his relationship with Kao or another TECRO military attaché Cmdr. Victor Hsu, required by his position.

Lin had also developed a relationship with Janice Chen, an American who worked for the Taiwanese Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and was a registered foreign agent.

As part of his plea, Lin admitted to sending Chen emails on his takes on international news stories that included analysis based on classified operational plans he learned of while serving on the carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69).

“This is something you would probably never see in the published literature, but it’s pretty close to ground truth,” Lin wrote Chen in a July 22, 2017 email according to prosecutors.

In 2013 Lin arranged a meeting with the head of the Taiwanese Navy, Vice Adm. Richard Chen Yeong-kang, through his TECRO contacts, lied about his destination on his leave request and did not report the encounter.

The start of Lin’s investigation began shortly after he reported to one of the Navy’s most secretive units – the 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.

Retired Cmdr. Paul Crawford, Lin’s commander at VPU-2, said Lin deployed several times with the unit while he was under investigation.

While he was in Hawaii, Lin developed relationships with two Chinese nationals he did not report to security officials – one was an employee at the China Doll massage parlor in Honolulu and another was a prison official Lin met online.

Lin had given both women several thousand dollars but prosecutors said there was no evidence they were agents of the People’s Republic of China.

“This never was a case of spying or trading secrets for sex,” government prosecutor Capt. Michael Luken said.
“I don’t know who the sources were, but from convening authority or the trail counsel, we’ve never asserted that.”

Much of the case against Lin came from an FBI agent who’s back story shared similarities to Lin’s mother who died from cancer. The FBI agent assumed the alias of Katerine Wu and over a period of five meetings from August to September in 2015, Lin told the agent secret information about his unit.

“I felt like I was talking to my mother, even though I knew she wasn’t,” Lin said in his unsworn statement.

While Lin admitted he told the agent information she wasn’t authorized to hear, he said his intent was to communicate a military career was an honorable pursuit in the U.S.

Shortly after Lin’s last meeting with the undercover agent, Lin was arrested in the Honolulu airport intending to fly to mainland China to meet with the prison official he met online on Sept. 11, 2015.

In a statement, Lin’s attorney said that now that the trial is over Lin is committed to cooperate
with authorities.

“Lt. Cmdr. Eddy Lin never spied on his country. He served faithfully in the United States Navy for over 17 years, becoming a highly regarded and decorated officer,” Lin’s lawyer Larry Youngner told USNI News. “He accepted responsibility for the offenses he was actually guilty of and he agreed to debrief and further assist the FBI and NCIS.”

  • Steven Farmer

    If he had only been political office, he probably could have gotten away with it throwing out racial and ethnic discrimination

    • Marty Tarver

      And gender discrimination. Don’t forget that!
      In the military FOB means Forward Operating Base. In politics it means Friend Of Bill’s. Billy Bubba didn’t fly to Phoenix for this dumbass. He probably spent too much buying off the DOJ for the last dumbass…

      • Janice Archer Weaver

        Yeah, where was his Tarmac Bill???

  • Janice Archer Weaver

    And Hillary sits free in one of her three mansions, when she’s not going around crying the victim!

  • 1coolguy

    So he serves 6 years for mishandling classified information – wasn’t there a presidential candidate who did same via her private email server? How about her right hand woman, Abedin?
    This is a classic case of the Elites and the Everyday man – “Equal justice for all”??? Hardly.

    • Yamanote

      No, but there is an ex National Security Advisor who betrayed his country and a President who thinks Lavrov is more loyal to our values than NATO allies. Wake up.

      • 1coolguy

        What happened with “innocent until proven guilty”? Oh yeah, I almost forgot, you are obviously a part of the suckers who represent the Left, Intolerant, Anarchist Dems who have no time for anyone or anything that that does not comport with their narrow vision of the world.
        As to Flynn, his is the sin of being naive and frankly, stupid and I will not defend his actions, even though I do believe there is nothing there. An American citizen can speak to and meet with anyone they want to – or did you forget that right?
        As for Trump, with the media and the Dems crawling up his azz for the past 2 years, if there was anything there it would have come out by now.
        Sorry to pop your bubble, but getting back to my point above, are you saying the 33,000 emails she not only deleted from her server but had a professional company BLEACH the hard drive is NOT breaking the law? In case you have missed it, ALL production from a government employee during their term is owned by the public, you and me, and deleting these emails, especially AFTER the emails were discovered and known to Congress, is a crime that I do believe Sessions will get to in good time. If Clinton had any brains, which she has repeatedly shown she does not, at least those that are of use, she would quit hammering Trump, retire and disappear. Unfortunately her misplaced ego will not allow that.
        So, as to my post above, are you disputing the conclusion: “”This is a classic case of the Elites and the Everyday man – “Equal justice for all”??? Hardly.”.
        If so, you really do need to pull your head out, as fresh air does clear the mind.

        • Yamanote

          Flynn has already taken the fifth and tried to get immunity, which even he says is a sign of guilt. His words. Lock him up.

          Sorry, I voted for Trump. But after spending a large part of my career chasing Soviets around WestPac and as a staff office in NATO command, I can’t accept even a small smell of Russian corruption. I didn’t like Clinton, but Trump has been a disappointment (nothing is acheived) and I look forward to President Pence or Ryan at some point in the future. When does the winning start? Its seems its going to be some time, even Obama got more done in his first 6 months.

          Sounds like you have drank too much Trump bug juice. Need to keep eyes forward and awake.

          • draeger24

            You didn’t vote for Trump – that is your troll ruse….so please, lib, have the courage of your convictions.

          • firefights101

            Who is the troll, Mr. Rebreather? You must be aware that Donald
            Trump equated his boarding school experience with actually being in the
            military and surviving his sexual exploits with surviving service in the
            Vietnam War. No combat veteran could ever support him.

          • draeger24

            No he didn’t cite your sources and quotes, lib. You can’t.

          • firefights101

            My post with the URLs was blocked. Look it up yourself and you can watch Trump brag to Howard Stern that he was a “brave soldier.”

          • Yamanote

            My convictions and 25 yrs of service are secure, which I spent many months chasing Krivaks in Westpac, chasing Soviet carriers from Vlad to CRB, deploying GLCMs in NATO, fighting a hot war.

            You are likely a junior Russian hacker, assigned to troll the USNI web site, frequented by USN thought leaders. Are you in Sverdlovsk or Perm or Irkutsk? Nice places in the summer. Хороший товарищ! Для Родины.

          • draeger24

            and you have issues.I also had 20 years Navy and 10 more as a contractor….seek some help, lib.

      • draeger24

        How did Flynn betray his country – please be specific, lib….did he make a mistake and pay for it??…YEP….has Hillary paid for it….NOPE. Anyone of us who had/have clearances would be in jail – she got a pass for doing MUCH worse than this guy did.
        Oh, and lib, remember that pesky Obama – “Tell Vlad I will have more flexibility after the election.”…..

        • firefights101

          President Trump compromised another country’s human asset by providing specific information about the asset’s location and information that the other country had been promised would not be shared. Trump violated the agreement in order to brag to his Russian handlers the day after he fired the FBI director to impede the investigation of Russian influence in the election. That act of
          deceit is not comparable to president Obama telling Putin a fact that was known
          to everyone.

          • draeger24

            As McMasters said, nothing was compromised – that said, the President has the authority to declassify ANYTHING. Comey has conflicts of interest with the Clinton campaign as his brother does their taxes among other things. Try coming here with facts.

          • firefights101

            “The party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their
            final, most essential command.” — George Orwell, 1984

          • draeger24

            that would be your worldview as it was the foretelling of MARXISM under DEMs as the old DEM Party no longer exists.

          • draeger24

            The President is the only person authorized to declassify materials from the originating source – he violated nothing. As McMasters said, though, no classified information was discussed.

  • Ako Madamosiya 毛むくじゃら

    This is Linsanity!

  • NavySubNuke

    I don’t mean to sound too picky but can we possibly get a better front page picture for this article so I don’t have to see a close up head shot of this dishonorable traitor’s face every time I load the main news page?

  • Yamanote

    Flynn is next. Worse than Lin – went direct to the top Russian. Lock Him Up. “I am going to pick the best people” Sayonara.

    • draeger24

      Worse than Lin? NOPE….Hillary is worse than ALL/ALL of them, lib.

      • firefights101

        Secretary Clinton had a private server, just
        like General Powell before her. Neither was hacked by the Russians. In
        contrast, everything President Trump says and does contributes to the hypothesis
        that he is Putin’s puppet, especially his willingness to sacrifice the Baltic
        states to Russian expansionism. Does anyone believe that Michael Flynn, a
        career military officer, or Jared Kushner, the president’s principal advisor,
        would contact the Russian ambassador (on multiple occasions) without the boss’s
        knowledge? Flynn and others lied about his contacts when evidence emerged and
        Kushner lied about his contacts on security questionnaires. Attempting to
        conceal the contacts indicates that they knew their actions were illegal. The
        entire administration is illegitimate.

        • The Plague

          ” Neither was hacked by the Russians ” – how would you know that for a fact you cretin? A bare-a$$ server, out in the window, TS/SCI/SAR $h!t obviously sitting on it, its owner’s identity an open secret – but NO, it obviously wasn’t compromised.

  • Mark Burns

    Almost got off to jet set with Hillary. He should have been hammered!

  • Michael D. Woods

    “trail council” Sounds like boy scouts. I think they meant “trial counsel.” Who edits this stuff?

    But as to the substance, the guy sounds like a capable intel officer gone badly wrong. He seems repentant. I hope some future use can be found for his abilities.

    • The Plague

      Yeah, keep the hope up that we shoot ourselves in the a$$ one more time with this POS. Who’re you sold out to?

  • James Bowen

    One thing this case does is call into question many practices of the Navy’s personnel system. Judging by his previous assignments as well as his Navy experience being used as an example for recruiting and public relations purposes, he was highly favored by that system and was apparently on a fast track for rapid promotion. Nonetheless, at the very least, he displayed exceptionally poor judgement. If this is what the personnel system saw as a promising officer, that is a strong signal that that personnel system is in need of either a drastic overhaul or outright replacement.

    • The Plague

      Precisely the point : and Lin’s case should be compared with those of other “fast-tracked” traitors in the past.

  • Very surprised that USNI does not have the courage to maintain the integrity of this article as it was originally published.

    This was in the original post:

    Rob “Butch” Bracknell, a former Marine and military lawyer, told USNI News on Friday.
    “It also invites comparison to other more high profile classified and sensitive information cases in Washington, and it may be fair criticism that senior folks are handled with kid gloves compared to rank and file personnel.”

    • firefights101

      It is amazing that the candidate who based his campaign on the possibility that his opponent violated security procedures and could have been hacked (but wasn’t) now actually and continuously violates security procedures. During more than three decades of classified work, I cannot recall a greater leak than the president committed with the Russians nor have I observed a breach of security equal to Trump’s handling of classified information at his club and the daily Tweeting from an unsecure device. Actually, I am unaware of anyone ever taking an electronic device into a classified meeting–even accidentally–because the rules are so clear.

      • The Plague

        Then you have lived your life blindfolded and stuffed fat with earplugs. Practically every US weapon system, technology, or intelligence operation has been compromised on a continuous basis for decades. The only reason why the US maintains a superiority of any kind is because the thieves often can’t do the job even when they get the recipe.

    • That was my mistake when we posted the longer draft on Sunday, I inadvertently left out Butch’s quote. No reason the quote was left out other than my error.

      • Thank you very much for accepting responsibility for your oversight and for making the correction – a rare and noble action in this day and age. Very respectfully!

  • tteng

    Anybody can be turned…that’s my conclusion of ‘human nature, and its vulnerability’ after reading so many spying cases, of all levels/fields/ideologies.

    From Lin, to Hillary, to current WH, to…

    Consider myself (untrained in the art, or science, of human nature) lucky, I’m not in a position (nor its importance) to be tempted and targeted.

  • Danger_Dan

    Kudos to USNI for the solid reporting on this case since Sam LaGrone first broke this story in 2015. Solid job from start to finish.

  • FourWarVet

    I seem to recall that many of you that are making the false equivalency arguments between LCDR Eddy Lin, and SECSTATE HRC making comments like “take him outside and shoot him” back in 2015 when this story first broke.

    You seemed to have softened your views in the past couple of years? Should the Military justice system lower its’ standards because of high profile cases involving politicians–is that what you are suggesting? I hope not.

    If you feel so strongly that justice was not served in this case, then you should write to President Trump and ask him to commute the sentence of LCDR Lin, or pardon his crimes.

  • John B. Morgen

    He should have gotten more time than what he did received. My DOD organization we were remained many times about the importance of security of classified information. We scored an [E] rating for security from the IG—everytime.

  • omegatalon

    This guy deserves 50 years as he’s a traitor to this country and the uniform.

  • The Plague

    “— not really a ‘spy’ case —” : Smoke up our collective a$$, which is nothing new, but rarely does one get to receive it in such a thick column.

  • b2

    Wow. 2 years of a “spy case” and then this…
    Have us believe this entire affair was over a P-3 NFO was chasing his #1 needle to impress “women”? I ain’t convinced. If that was the case this “story” should have never made the papers if someone in leadership had relieved this dude earlier when he should have been.
    Man, this business is not serious like it used to be. The whole premise of clearances and access has exploded after 16 years of war, 8 years of granting clearances to those who don’t warrant them, an FBI director who tried playing J. Edgar, Jr, a HS graduate keyboard geek who walked away to Russia with CIA secrets and a befuddled pervert army clerk who copied classified traffic on disk and gave it to the white rat Assange, among others… You can’t make this “S” up…