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

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

A U.S. Navy officer has been charged with supplying a foreign nation with state secrets relating to America's national security.

The Navy charge sheet that details the spying allegations has been heavily redacted, blacking out the suspect's identity and other details.

But U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, told NBC News that the accused was Lt. Cmdr. Edward Lin.

Lin was born in Taiwan and came to the U.S. aged 14 before becoming a naturalized U.S. citizen around sometime around 1999, according to an interview on the Navy's official website. He was assigned to a unit that oversees some of the Navy's spy planes and was in a position to know about how the Navy gathers intelligence using its sea-going aircraft.

The suspect 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."

"I always dreamed about coming to America"

This information was supplied "with intent or reason to believe it would be used to the advantage of a foreign nation," according to the military charge sheet.

The intelligence was classified at the "Secret" level, one step below "Top Secret," which covers the military's most closely guarded information.

Other charges accused the suspect of divulging information that he "had reason to believe could be used to the injury of the United States or the advantage of a foreign nation."

The document does not name any foreign nations.

The suspect was also charged with failing to report the places he visited while on foreign travel, as well as hiring a prostitute and adultery.

Lin had a preliminary hearing before military officials Friday and was being held at a naval brig in Chesapeake, Virginia, where officials said he has been detained since last fall.

He was profiled in 2008 by the Navy's website and spoke about becoming an American national.

"I always dreamed about coming to America, the 'promised land,'" he said. "I grew up believing that all the roads in America lead to Disneyland."

Melanie Tabares, 38, of Fruita, Colo., was in the Navy with Lin for two years in the mid 2000s, in Washington state, where he was her superior. In an interview with NBC News she described him as "a stellar guy."

She said she had not seen him in a decade but they are Facebook friends.

"He was an outstanding guy," she added. "Everyone liked him. I'm dumbfounded. I can't understand why he would do that."