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Pacific News Minute: Navy Exaggerated Spy Case; Lt. Commander Pleads Guilty to Lesser Charges


Two years ago, we reported on the case of Lieutenant Commander Edward Lin, arrested as he boarded a plane in Honolulu headed for China. Lin was charged with espionage in what government officials said was an epic sex for secrets scandal. As we hear from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute, it now looks as if the allegations were greatly exaggerated.

During two days of intensive interrogation following his arrest, Lieutenant Commander Lin appeared to dig his own grave. According to documents obtained by Navy Times, he confessed to passing details of some the Navy’s most advanced weapons to a recently retired Taiwanese intelligence officer and to passing political intelligence to a female Taiwanese lobbyist. Initial charges also included adultery and prostitution.

But, according to the documents uncovered by Navy Times, an investigation by the Naval Criminal Investigation Service concludes that the confession was false. Much of the case turned out to be Lin telling tales to his friends or bragging to impress women. In court last week, Lin pleaded guilty to failing to report foreign contacts, and to mishandling and disclosing classified information. Serious charges that could lead to 30 years in prison at a sentencing hearing in June, but nothing like the sensational espionage allegations. Navy Times reported that Lin may in fact have been a spy earlier in his career for the United States. At one point, the Taiwan born Mandarin speaker served as an operative in a joint FBI/NCIS task force.

Lin had access to some of the Navy’s most sensitive secrets after two years with the Wizards, Special Projects Patrol Squadron 2 based at Marine Corps Air Station Kaneohe and another two years as the Navy’s Congressional liaison. He had a security clearance above top secret.

Over 36 years with National Public Radio, Neal Conan worked as a correspondent based in New York, Washington, and London; covered wars in the Middle East and Northern Ireland; Olympic Games in Lake Placid and Sarajevo; and a presidential impeachment. He served, at various times, as editor, producer, and executive producer of All Things Considered and may be best known as the long-time host of Talk of the Nation. Now a macadamia nut farmer on Hawaiʻi Island, his "Pacific News Minute" can be heard on HPR Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.
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