U.S. sailor sentenced to 18 years for transmitting classified information while stationed in Japan

A U.S. Navy sailor was handed an 18-year prison sentence on espionage charges, according to federal officials on Thursday.

Former Chief Petty Officer Bryce Pedicini faced allegations of sharing classified national defense information with a foreign government official during his time with the U.S. Navy in Japan. The Naval Criminal Investigative Service found him guilty of attempted espionage and failure to comply with a lawful order.

Last year, he was taken into custody while serving on the guided-missile destroyer USS Higgins stationed in Japan.

The Navy has announced that, apart from being sentenced to prison, Pedicini has also received a dishonorable discharge.

According to the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, Pedicini was found to have delivered classified and national defense information to a foreign government official from November 2022 to May 2023.

The Navy stated that Pedicini disclosed the documents during his tenure with the service branch in Japan, without explicitly mentioning the country to which he released them.

The Navy stated that he interacted with the foreign official by posing as a researcher writing research papers. According to the Navy, this method is becoming more common among U.S. adversaries who seek to acquire both classified and unclassified documents.

According to NCIS Director Omar Lopez, it is important not to perceive this incident as an indication of compromised security regarding classified information in the United States. He further emphasized that the sentence passed to Pedicini serves as a means to hold him responsible for betraying both his country and his fellow service members.

Lopez emphasized that the remarkable sacrifices made by our service members and their families to safeguard our nation on a daily basis should not be overshadowed by the criminal act committed by this lone individual.

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According to charging documents, Pedicini faced allegations of smuggling photos of a computer specially designed for classified information to a foreign official during his time in Yokosuka, Japan last spring.

Officials have stated that Pedecini, who is a member of the Navy, had concerns about the potential harm that could result from the release of certain documents. Although the specific nature of these documents has not been disclosed, it is clear that their release could have negative consequences for the United States.

According to previous statements, the Navy stated that Pedecini had interacted with a foreign government representative by presenting himself as a researcher, but he did not disclose the specific country to which he allegedly leaked the documents.

Pedicini’s career was marked by his service on various naval ships and the numerous awards he received. He embarked on his journey with the Navy in 2009.

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