Navy chief charged with espionage

A chief in the United States Navy has been charged with espionage and other crimes after he allegedly funneled classified information to “a citizen and employee of a foreign government.”

Chief Fire Controlman Bryce Steven Pedicini is a Tennessee native who enlisted in the Navy in 2008. He served on the USS Curtis Wilbur and USS McFaul before he was promoted to chief in August 2022, just a few short months before the alleged instances of espionage with an unidentified “foreign nation” began.

On multiple occasions between November 2022 and February 2023, Pedicini is alleged to have met with a foreign national in Hampton Roads, Virginia, for the purpose of handing over “national defense” information, charging documents claimed. The documents further alleged that Pedicini had “reason to believe” the information he shared “would be used to the injury of the United States and to the advantage of a foreign nation.”

Pedicini was assigned to the Mid-Atlantic Regional Maintenance Center in Norfolk, Virginia, at the time these alleged offenses occurred, the Navy Times reported.

Pedicini was also assigned to serve aboard the USS Higgins, a missile destroyer located in Yokosuka, Japan, and he reported there in April 2023 to oversee the AEGIS radar system. In the weeks following his arrival on the Higgins, Pedicini is accused of further trafficking classified information by failing to report a foreign contact, failing “to report solicitation of classified material by an unauthorized person,” taking a personal electronic device into a restricted area of the ship, and photographing classified material, including at least one secret internet protocol router network “computer screen,” the charging documents said.

The last alleged incident occurred between May 13 and 17 in Japan, and Pedicini was placed in pretrial confinement on May 19. He was charged last month, and a motions hearing was scheduled for earlier this week. Officials have not stated when his trial will begin.

“A Sailor assigned to the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Higgins (DDG 76) is suspected of mishandling classified documents and information. The incident remains under investigation and legal proceedings continue,” said Cmdr. Arlo Abrahamson, a public affairs officer with the U.S. Pacific Fleet, according to NewsNation.

Naval Surface Forces declined to comment further, the Navy Times reported. The Navy’s defense attorney office did not respond to the outlet’s request for comment, and Pedicini “could not be reached.”

The Navy Times claimed that Pedicini is the first Navy sailor to be charged with espionage in five years.

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