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'Goon Squad' Allegation Fuels Request for Time Off in Espionage Case

Then-Lt. Edward Lin, a native of Taiwan, shares his personal stories about his journey to citizenship to 80 newly nationalized citizens at a ceremony in Honolulu, Dec. 3, 2008. (Photo by Sarah Murphy/U.S. Navy)
Then-Lt. Edward Lin, a native of Taiwan, shares his personal stories about his journey to citizenship to 80 newly nationalized citizens at a ceremony in Honolulu, Dec. 3, 2008. (Photo by Sarah Murphy/U.S. Navy)

The latest volley in the ongoing case of a Navy officer accused of espionage turned into an indictment of the Chesapeake brig where he is being held.

Lt. Cmdr. Edward Lin is one of several people detained at the brig who has been a victim "of systematic abuse by a sadistic group of guards called the 'goon squad,' " defense attorney Lt. Clay Bridges told the judge, Cmdr. Robert P. Monahan Jr., during a pretrial hearing Thursday.

If Lin is convicted and sentenced, his lawyers have asked Monahan to credit Lin four days for every day served from Sept. 15, 2015 -- the day he was placed in in the brig -- through June 1, 2016. That's the day that the defense said the squad ceased operating.

But that group started operating again a few months later, Bridges said. He also asked for four days' credit for a Jan. 14, 2017, incident in which he said Lin was harassed by a reconstituted "goon squad." On that day, Lin was wrongfully written up by a guard for an inappropriate hand gesture that the defendant denies making, Bridges said.

Bridges also asked Monahan to consider whether Lin is being held illegally based on a Navy regulation that says pre- and post-trial detainees cannot be housed together in the brig.

Lin is housed in a building in which the floors are separated by those awaiting trial and those who have been convicted, Bridges said. If Monhan finds Lin is being held illegally, Bridges asked the judge to credit Lin two days for every day served from the time of his ruling until he is legally housed.

Monahan is expected to rule on the request at a later date. Defense attorneys said they may submit additional evidence.

Lin is accused of passing classified information to Taiwan, and faces two counts of espionage, three counts of attempted espionage and five counts of communicating defense information, among other charges. He has pleaded not guilty.

He was born in Taiwan but came to the United States at age 14. He became a citizen in 1998 and joined the Navy in 1999.

Lin's complaints were among others that spurred an investigation at the jail last year. Cmdr. Angela Tang, a government attorney, argued that the investigation determined the brig was operating in accordance with regulations, but Bridges called the report flawed. A copy of that 27-page investigation was not available Thursday.

The defense Thursday also asked the judge to consider postponing Lin's court-martial, set to begin March 8 and run through March 24, until the end of May. The defense asked for the additional time to seek security clearance for a witness and to transcribe a recorded conversation between Lin and an undercover FBI agent.

Monahan is expected to rule on that request within a few days.

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Headlines Navy Crime in the Military Espionage

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