A Navy flight officer who spoke in Honolulu in 2008 about his journey to become an American citizen has been charged with espionage for allegedly passing secrets to China and patronizing a prostitute, according to a U.S. Naval Institute news story.
Lt. Cmdr. Edward C. Lin, who is originally from Taiwan and speaks fluent Mandarin, was most recently assigned to the Patrol and Reconnaissance Group in Norfolk, Va., the news outlet said.
A 2008 Navy story said Lin, then a lieutenant, spoke at a naturalization ceremony at U.S. District Court in Honolulu about how he was 14 when his family left Taiwan.
“I always dreamt about coming to America, the ‘promised land,’ ” the officer, who had become a naturalized citizen nine years earlier, was quoted as saying at the ceremony. “I grew up believing that all roads in America lead to Disneyland.”
Lin shared his personal story with 80 individuals becoming American citizens. At the time, Lin was on the U.S. Pacific Fleet staff at Pearl Harbor.
A U.S. official confirmed that the accused officer is the same one highlighted by the Navy in 2008, the Washington Post reported.
The U.S. Naval Institute said Lin also had been a department head with the Special Projects Patrol Squadron 2 “Wizards” at Kaneohe Bay, a highly secretive group that flies specially-modified spy planes and has been known to change aircraft paint schemes and identifying numbers to blend in with other Navy planes.
A heavily redacted charge sheet from the Navy accuses the unnamed officer of two specifications of espionage for communicating secret information relating to national defense to a representative of a foreign government. The U.S. Naval Institute said that country is China.
Also filed were three specifications of attempted espionage for trying to pass secret information.
The officer additionally was charged with patronizing a prostitute and adultery, five specifications of communicating defense information that could be use to injure the United States, and three specifications of making a false official statement relating to foreign travel.
A preliminary “Article 32” hearing was held on Friday for Lin, who is being held in a brig in Chesapeake, Va., and the charge sheet was released afterward, but did not disclose his name, the Washington Post said.
Lin noted in the 2008 Navy news story diverse motivations for wanting to become an American citizen.
“Whether it is economical, political, social or religious reasons,” Lin said, “I do know that by becoming a citizen of the United States of America, you did it to better your life and the life of your family.”
A translator had to help him register for school, including filling out the required paperwork, the Navy story said. Lin’s Chinese name had 20 letters in it, and the woman at the school’s front desk was unable to pronounce it. She asked him for his American name.
“I was barely able to spell ‘ABC.’ The only name that I knew back then as an American name was Eddy,” Lin said. “Eddy was the name of my mother’s dog … I was very fortunate that my mother did not name her dog ‘Fluffy.’”
He also thanked the nine U.S. military members being naturalized for safeguarding their new nation, “her people and the Constitution, which guarantees our way of life.”