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Advocates Worried Navy Espionage Case Could Hurt Asian Americans

When the case of Navy Lt. Comdr. Edward C. Lin, who stands accused of handing over state secrets to a foreign government, broke earlier this week, Lin became the latest story of a Taiwan-born American citizen charged with spying against the United States.

But his case has a new twist. He is being tried under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), and not a criminal case in civilian courts.

U.S. Navy Officer Accused of Espionage, Leaking State Secrets 1:41

Lin faces multiple charges of espionage, alleging he communicated "secret information relating to the national defense [of the U.S.] to a representative of a foreign government." An additional allegation involves hiring a prostitute and committing adultery — a crime under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ).

Brian Sun, a member of the Chinese advocacy organization known as the Committee of 100 and the lawyer who represented Taiwanese-American scientist Wen Ho Lee, said the Lin case would have a negative impact on Chinese Americans.

“I don’t know anything about this naval intelligence guy,” Sun told NBC News. “[But] we’re talking about how it effects the image of Chinese Americans in all aspects of life.”

RELATED: U.S. Navy Officer Lt. Cmdr. Edward Lin Accused of Espionage: Officials

He was especially concerned with the rise of national security issues in the science, technology, engineering, and math fields.

“This doesn’t mean all Chinese Americans are disloyal and subject to co-opting by some evil Chinese intelligence agency or by some Chinese company looking to pay a bunch of money for technology,” Sun said. “That’s what the Committee of 100 is concerned about, the negative image being fostered because of these cases.”

Sun is scheduled to lead a panel on how to avoid being in the “crossfire of national security concerns,” at a Committee of 100 event in Los Angeles Saturday.

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