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US Navy Petty Officer in Japan Accused of Espionage Charges

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Last month, a U.S. sailor admitted to providing the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) with sensitive U.S. military information.

A U.S. Navy Sailor based in Japan has been charged with espionage and communicating defense information to an employee of a foreign government on several occasions.

Bryce S. Pedicini, a chief petty officer (CPO) fire control man aboard the Japan-based destroyer USS Higgins, is accused of providing documents to a foreign citizen at least seven times between 2022 and 2023 in Hampton Roads, Virginia, and one final time while in Japan.

Hampton Roads in southeastern Virginia is the home to central military installations and commands, including Naval Station Norfolk, Norfolk Naval Shipyard, and Langley Air Force Base. CPO Pedicini was arrested in May 2023 after allegedly sharing documents with a foreign government employee. He has been in custody ever since.

CPO Pedicini was referred for a general court-martial on Jan. 18, with the U.S. Naval Surface Force as the convening authority. It has yet to be publicly revealed which foreign government CPO Pedicini was allegedly collaborating with or what the shared files contained. The charging sheet only says it was “relating to national defense,” and the documents were provided “with reason to believe that it would be used to the injury of the United States and to the advantage of a foreign nation.”

In addition to charges of espionage and communicating defense information, CPO Pedicini is accused of failing to report foreign contacts to his superiors, failing to report solicitation of classified information, transporting classified information, and taking a personal device into a secure room. He also allegedly failed to report a foreign contact in Yokosuka last April and failed “to report solicitation of classified information by an unauthorized person.”

According to the Navy’s trial docket, CPO Pedicini was set to have a hearing earlier this week in San Diego. His Navy bio says he is originally from Tennessee and joined the Navy in early 2008. He started serving on Navy destroyers in mid-2009. CPO Pedicini reported for duty aboard the Higgins in April last year and was promoted to chief petty officer on Aug. 22.

2 Other Sailors Caught Spying for Foreign Governments

Last month, a former U.S. Navy sailor was sentenced to 27 months in prison for providing the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) with sensitive U.S. military information in exchange for bribes.

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Wenheng Zhao admitted to passing on sensitive military information to the CCP’s intelligence agents while working at a California naval base. He had access to restricted military facilities and secretly gathered details on the U.S. Navy’s operational security and critical infrastructures.

Zhao also admitted to passing on “plans for a large-scale maritime training exercise plans in the Pacific theater, operational orders, and electrical diagrams and blueprints” for the U.S. radar system in Okinawa, Japan. He was arrested last August alongside another sailor, Jinchao Wei, who was accused of conspiring to send defense information to a CCP agent.

Lawmakers have warned of the CCP’s intelligence agency in recent years, the Ministry of State Security (MSS), which reportedly has extensive operations in the United States. Instances of MSS urging people to participate in counterespionage efforts against the United States have been found on the China-based social messaging app WeChat. The agency’s call to popularize anti-spying work among civilians follows an expansion of the CCP’s counterespionage law that took effect in July last year.

Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.) said last year that many Americans lack awareness about the presence of the CCP’s MSS on home soil.

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