FBI Tricked Naval Intel Officer Into Spilling Info, Lawyers Say
Navy makes tapes of hearing for accused U.S. Navy spy available, adds new wrinkles
Lt. Cmdr. Edward Lin, the U.S. Navy officer accused of spying for foreign agents, was entrapped by the FBI, his defense team alleges, and never passed sensitive military information to Taiwan. Instead, he discussed the information with a Mandarin-speaking undercover informant.
Larry D. Younger, Lin’s civilian lawyer, further said at Lin’s April 8 preliminary hearing at U.S. Naval Station Norfolk that Lin never admitted in 11 hours of interrogation to spying for Taiwan. The Pentagon for the first time made an audio recording of the hearing available to reporters Thursday.
“The government has engaged in a nefarious scheme to entrap Lt. Cmdr. Lin,” Younger claimed, adding that Navy lawyers have to prove “beyond reasonable doubt that Lt. Cmdr. Lin was not entrapped” during the five liaisons with the informant that led to his arrest last September in Honolulu. Government lawyers did not respond to the charge of entrapment.
Lin, 39, moved to the United States from Taiwan when he was 14 and became a U.S. citizen in 1998. After enlisting in the Navy in 1999, he would go on to serve in a secretive Hawaii-based aviation unit that carried out reconnaissance on Chinese activities in the Pacific. It was during his service with this unit that he was arrested in September after his fifth and final meeting with the FBI informant, and charged with two instances of espionage and three of attempted espionage. He has been held in confinement since his arrest, an event that rocked his unit and raised questions about how secure its operations may be.
The Navy released a heavily redacted charge sheet last month, accusing Lin of communicating secret information “with intent or reason to believe it would be used to the advantage of a foreign nation.” Navy officials have suggested that Lin stands accused of spying for both Taiwan and China, but at no time during the hour-plus hearing earlier this month did China come up. His defense team repeatedly said that he had no intention of spying for Taiwan.
Lin’s defense also maintains that the information Lin passed on to the undercover FBI informant was public information, making it unclassified. But the prosecution argued that just because some military information may have been published doesn’t make it unclassified, only the government can change classification levels.
The U.S. Pacific Command and the Joint Special Operations Command — known by its acronym, JSOC — reviewed the interrogation tapes and transcripts before the hearing, Naval officers said. It’s not clear what role JSOC plays in missions Lin may have been involved in.
“The defendant was induced by government agents to commit this offense,” Younger said, adding that government agents preyed “on his vulnerabilities to entice him to engage in something he otherwise would not have engaged in.” Lin is also accused of soliciting a prostitute and committing adultery; his defense team did not contest those charges during the hearing.
Younger also says that Lin was not read his rights during his arrest or the subsequent 11-hour interrogation that stretched over two days. The website set up by the Lin family insisting on his innocence says that his “Constitutional rights were not protected, nor respected,” during his arrest and imprisonment, while “the government took its time to create a conventional, easy-to-digest, sensationalized tale of espionage, misdirection, and sexual perversion. Eddy is innocent of the alleged crimes with which the government has charged him.”
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