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Navy chief found guilty of attempted espionage

A chief assigned to the Japan-based destroyer Higgins was convicted of attempted espionage and other charges last week, according to the Navy.

Chief Fire Controlman (Aegis) Bryce Steven Pedicini was found guilty of attempted espionage, failure to obey a lawful order, and attempted violation of a lawful general order charge specifications, following a weeklong, judge-only general court-martial, the Navy said.

Dating back to November 2022, Pedicini shared national defense and classified information with a representative from a foreign government that he had reason to believe could be damaging to the U.S. and beneficial to the foreign nation, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service said in a statement.

He shared this information “under the guise” of writing research papers, NCIS said. The agency did not say which foreign government received these documents from Pedicini.

“This guilty verdict holds Mr. Pedicini to account for his betrayal of his country and fellow service members,” NCIS Director Omar Lopez said in a statement.

While the chief was initially charged with espionage, the trial judge opted to convict him of the lesser included offense of attempted espionage, according to officials, who declined to provide further details, citing the classified aspects of the proceedings.

NCIS detained Pedicini on May 19, 2023 and he has been in pre-trial confinement since.

Pedicini’s sentencing is scheduled for May 7.

Pedicini is not the only sailor that has shared or is accused of sharing sensitive information with a foreign government.

In January, a federal judge in Los Angeles sentenced Petty Officer Wenheng Zhao to 27 months in prison for sharing sensitive information about the U.S. military with a Chinese intelligence officer.

He previously pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy and one count of receiving a bribe in violation of his official duties, and faced a fine of $5,500.

Sailor Jinchao Wei also faces charges that he provided detailed information on the weapons systems and aircraft aboard the Essex and other amphibious assault ships that act as small aircraft carriers. He was arrested in August and has pleaded not guilty in federal court in San Diego.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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