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Japan-based US Navy sailor charged with espionage

The sailor has been in pre-trial confinement since being charged on May 19, 2023. 

Published: February 22, 2024 11:00am

Updated: February 22, 2024 1:27pm

A U.S. Navy sailor on a Japan-based guided-missile destroyer was charged with espionage and transmitting classified material to an employee of a foreign government. 

Chief Petty Officer Fire Controlman Bryce Pedicini, who was assigned to the USS Higgins destroyer, had a general court-martial scheduled Wednesday, Navy officials said, per USNI News.

A sailor "is suspected of mishandling classified documents and information. The incident remains under investigation and legal proceedings continue," a U.S. Naval Surface Force spokesperson said.

Pedicini is accused of giving classified national defense information to an employee of an unspecified foreign government from November 2022 through February 2023 while on active duty in Virginia, according to a charge sheet. These charges date to shortly after he was promoted to the position of chief in August 2022. 

Pedicini, a Tennessee native who joined the Navy in 2008, has already had his Article 32 hearing, which is the military's version of a civilian criminal arraignment.  

After allegedly communicating multiple times with the foreign agent in Virginia, Pedicini is accused of attempting to transmit images related to national defense, including a picture of a computer screen displaying classified information while he was in Yokosuka, Japan, in mid-May 2023.

Pedicini has been in pre-trial confinement since being charged on May 19, 2023. 

Pedicini is not the first notable case this year of a Navy sailor accused of transmitting sensitive information.

Last month, U.S. Navy Petty Officer Wenheng Zhao was sentenced to more than two years in prison after he pleaded guilty to giving China sensitive military information in exchange for a bribe.

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