NOW: Convicted of Espionage

( – A US Navy serviceman charged with disseminating confidential information to an unknown foreign nation has been declared guilty in a court-martial at Naval Station San Diego.

Chief Petty Officer Bryce Pedicini, who served as a fire controlman on the USS Higgins, a guided-missile destroyer based in Japan, faced convictions for attempted espionage, disobedience of a direct order, and attempting to breach a lawful general order, as per an announcement from the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS).

“This guilty verdict holds Mr. Pedicini to account for his betrayal of his country and fellow service members. Adversaries of the United States are unrelenting in their attempts to degrade our military superiority,” stated NCIS director Omar Lopez, as cited by Stars and Stripes.

Pedicini admitted to a violation related to bringing a personal cellphone into a secure area but challenged the accusations of espionage, according to a report by ABC 10 News in San Diego.

A military judge is set to deliver Pedicini’s sentence on May 7, the press release disclosed.

Court documents reveal that on October 24, 2022, an individual, purportedly acting as a Japanese defense analyst, initiated contact with Pedicini via Facebook Messenger.

This person offered money for information on the strategic and operational capacities of the U.S. military in the region.

As a fire controlman, Pedicini’s responsibilities encompassed a broad range of systems including radars, fire control systems, computer systems, and the Navy’s cutting-edge missile system, Aegis, utilized on guided-missile destroyers and cruisers, as described by the Navy.

The tactic of impersonating a defense researcher to obtain both classified and non-classified national defense information is increasingly employed by foreign adversaries, highlighted the NCIS statement.

Both court documents and the NCIS release only described the foreign contact as a “citizen and employee of a foreign government.”

However, ABC 10 News identified this individual as a female in an April 11 report, citing statements made by Prosecutor Leah O’Brien in court.

This woman persuaded Pedicini to transmit confidential details regarding a ballistic missile system and documents that detailed threats from China and Russia, O’Brien mentioned at the court-martial.

Pedicini initially received $50 for completing a survey and then $1,000 for the first batch of documents, as reported by ABC 10 News.

The woman promised Pedicini further compensation “based on the value and sensitivity of the information” and specifically requested classified data, according to court records from the Office of the Judge Advocate General.

Between November 2022 and February 2023, Pedicini provided at least seven documents, termed as “white papers” in court records, through Facebook Messenger and other electronic means, including the encrypted messaging service Telegram.

In May, before he was arrested, Pedicini dispatched photographs of content viewed on a computer screen connected to a Defense Department network for transmitting classified information.

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