NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY/AP) — A U.S. Navy officer who pleaded guilty to revealing military secrets and other crimes will serve six years behind bars.
A judge sentenced Lt. Cmdr. Edward C. Lin to nine years Friday, but as part of a plea deal, he will serve six years. He has 646 days of time served, meaning ultimately, he will serve another four years. However, if Lin violates the terms of his plea agreement, he could end up serving all nine years of the sentence.
Lin was also dismissed from the Navy and will lose all pay allowance.
Lin, 40, pleaded guilty to mishandling classified information, communicating national defense information, failing to report foreign contacts — which is which is mandatory for officers — and lying about where he was going on leave. His sentencing hearing began Thursday.
In court Thursday, NCIS and FBI agents took the stand, telling the judge about their interaction with Lin. NCIS says it found emails Lin sent to Taiwanese officials. An NCIS agent said evidence was found that Lin attached U.S. military documents in those emails and at one point, went to Taiwan to meet the country’s Navy Vice Admiral.
On Friday, Lin addressed the court. He told the judge he was born in a very poor village in Taiwan. His parents sent him away to Belize when he was 13. After 30 days, he moved to Costa Rica. There, he told his new school his name was Eddy.
“I only knew two American names: MacGyver and Eddy,” Lin said. “I wasn’t going to call myself MacGyver, so Eddy it was.”
Lin moved to the United States when he was 17. That same year, he lost his mom to cancer.
“Mom, are you proud of me?” Lin asked with tears in his eyes. “I failed to live up to you.”
Lin then talked about his sister, Jenny, who he says received death threats after he was charged.
“I wasn’t able to protect her and I put her in that position,” Lin added. “I don’t know what I can say to her for how sorry I am. I feel ashamed.”
Lin then moved on to talk about serving the United States.
“No words can express my sadness,” Lin said. “I’m physically ill when I think what could have happened. The thought I put them [sailors] in harm makes me sick.”
In 2013, Lin told Navy officials he was taking leave to head back home to Alexandria, Virginia, when he actually traveled to Taiwan to visit family. Lin said he again claimed Alexandria as his leave destination in 2015 — when he was actually to go to China to see a girl he met online.
FBI agents say Lin admitted to sharing information with several women who had political connections to Taiwan and China. He even paid one woman $43,000. Lin told agents he sent the money because he was romantically involved with her.
“He discusses information and the time is now to stop him,” said lead prosecutor Captain Michael Luken. “Throughout his career he has been trusted with classified material. He violated that trust over and over.”
Lin also shared information with a woman who ended up being an undercover FBI agent. Agents testified that he gave the agent 38 classified items in five meetings with the undercover agent.
Lin was arrested at an airport on his way to China, but once again told the Navy he was headed to Virginia.
“I have no one to blame, but myself,” Lin said. “My arrogance got me here. All the people I put in danger I apologize. I should have been thinking, but I was selfish. Thank God for the United States of America for allowing me to come this far. I squandered my chances.”
Lin served the Navy for 17 and half years. He had an impressive military career. He was on the staff of an assistant secretary of the Navy in Washington. He also was assigned to a unit in Hawaii that flies spy planes.
“He knew what he was doing was wrong,” Luken added. “Military service is honorable when it is served honorably, not dishonorably.”
As part of his plea deal, Lin has agreed to take a series of polygraphs for the next five years. The government still wants to find out what else Lin may know.