Naval flight officer and accused spy Lt. Cmdr. Edward Lin faces court martial next year in what will be one of the most closely watched Navy criminal trials in years.
Lin was arrested in September 2015 after a Naval Criminal Investigative Service probe turned up dubious, unreported connections with Taiwanese diplomats in Washington and is building a case that he turned over classified information to them.
Lin has pleaded not guilty and has already succeeded in getting several charges levied against him dismissed, including two of the three counts of failure to obey a lawful order, and charges of adultery and soliciting prostitutes.
The court martial is slated for March and will likely run for more than two weeks.
Lin was placed under investigation in April 2014. Labeling Lin "Rogue Archer," the investigation uncovered "personal and impersonal contact" with representatives from the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in Washington, which is Taiwan’s de-facto embassy, according to court documents obtained by Navy Times.
Taiwan denied any involvement in the case and denies that it was spying on the U.S.
During a search of his emails, agents uncovered a handful of emails to TECRO representatives, and other Taiwanese officials, some of which discuss weapons programs such as submarine-launched torpedoes. In one email, a TECRO representative asks Lin if the results of weapons tests were releasable, to which Lin responded that they were usually classified secret but that some secret information was shareable under security agreements. Investigators discovered Lin modified unclassified briefs dealing with torpedo program on his computer, but there is no evidence he shared them.
Investigators found a number of other questionable exchanges and have put a microscope on Lin's trips to Taiwan, some of which were not properly reported to the Navy.
The prosecution will likely have a tough road to hoe when it comes to proving Lin was a spy — there is no evidence Lin was paid for his services and limited evidence and any of the information Lin passed was classified. Still, Lin's unreported foreign contacts and undocumented trips to Taiwan raise questions about what were the precise nature of his activities vis-a-vis Taiwan.
David B. Larter was the naval warfare reporter for Defense News.