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Family of Sailor Charged with Espionage Declares He's Innocent

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)

NORFOLK, Va. -- The family of a Taiwanese-born sailor charged with espionage says he's innocent of the crimes the Navy has accused him of, which also include adultery and patronizing a prostitute.

Lt. Cmdr. Edward C. Lin is a naval flight officer who faces two counts of espionage, three counts of attempted espionage and five counts of communicating defense information, among other things. Espionage is one of the most serious crimes in the Uniform Code of Military Justice, punishable under certain circumstances by death.

Lin's family has created a website -- www.bringeddyhome.org -- to refute the charges and raise money for his legal defense. The FBI and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service are investigating allegations he passed secret information to China and Taiwan, according to a U.S. official with knowledge of the case who is not authorized to speak publicly about it.

"He is no spy for Taiwan or any other foreign country," the family's website says.

Lin was assigned to a secretive patrol squadron in Hawaii at the time of his arrest, and his prosecution has been designated a "national security case" by the Navy. Lin's family declined to comment Monday beyond what is on its website.

Government attorneys have been appointed for Lin, but he also has hired a civilian attorney who previously served as chief of staff for the Air Force Judge Advocate General's Corps and director for strategic policy and requirements at the Pentagon.

Lin's civilian attorney, Larry Youngner, said in a statement that Lin is innocent and that the case should be handled administratively "in a timely manner at the lowest appropriate level."

"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," Youngner said.

The family website says the Navy initially discouraged Lin's family from hiring a civilian attorney and said that it wanted to resolve the case quietly and quickly.

"It was only after we ignored this guidance and hired an experienced former military judge advocate to represent Eddy that we started to see the government's case for the house of cards that it is," the site says.

The Navy has said little about Lin's case and declined to comment on his family's website or Youngner's statement.

What details are available are contained in charge sheets released following the military equivalent of a preliminary hearing at Norfolk Naval Station in April. The decision about whether to proceed with a court-martial is now in the hands of Adm. Phil Davidson, commander of U.S. Fleet Forces Command. There is no specified timeline for Davidson to make a decision.

On the website, Lin's family says it wants to "take back the narrative" about Lin, who they say was arrested in Hawaii in September and imprisoned for more than two months before being charged. The website says his constitutional rights "were not protected, nor respected."

"From there, the government took its time to create a conventional, easy-to-digest, sensationalized tale of espionage, misdirection, and sexual perversion. That's not the Eddy Lin we know and love," the site says.

"The opaqueness of the events that have transpired since September 11, 2015, has made it difficult for his family to communicate with Eddy about his case, to use case information to obtain defense counsel for him, and to formulate an effective defense strategy. But cloaking Eddy's case in secrecy has, however, allowed the government to, in a broad stroke, categorize much of the evidence directly or even tangentially related to his case as 'classified' without proffering any basis for such classification."

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