US sailor found guilty at court martial on attempted espionage charges

Apr 20, 2024, 10:21 AM | Updated: 10:22 am

This photo from the US Navy shows the USS Higgins in Yokosuka, Japan, in November 2022. (Mass Commu...

This photo from the US Navy shows the USS Higgins in Yokosuka, Japan, in November 2022. (Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Donavan K. Patubo/US Navy via CNN Newsource)

(Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Donavan K. Patubo/US Navy via CNN Newsource)

(CNN) — A US sailor who served in Japan was found guilty on Friday at a general court martial for attempted espionage, failure to obey a lawful order and attempted violation of a lawful general order.

The sailor, Chief Petty Officer Bryce S. Pedicini, will be sentenced on May 7, according to a statement from the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.

“This guilty verdict holds Mr. Pedicini to account for his betrayal of his country and fellow service members,” NCIS Director Omar Lopez said in the statement. “Adversaries of the United States are unrelenting in their attempts to degrade our military superiority.”

Pedicini was accused earlier this year of 14 counts of espionage and the communication of defense information, in addition to failing to obey a lawful order by not reporting a foreign contact or that a foreigner had solicited classified information from him.

He was assigned to the Japan-based destroyer USS Higgins (DDG-76).

CNN has reached out to the Navy’s Judge Advocate General’s office for comment from Pedicini’s attorney.

While serving on the USS Higgins, Pedicini was taken into custody in May 2023 when, according to a Navy charge sheet, he wrongfully transported information he knew to be classified. Navy prosecutors said that included photographs of a classified computer screen that he attempted to transfer to a foreign government.

According to the Navy charge sheet, Pedicini gave classified information to a citizen and employee of a foreign government at least six different times, beginning in November 2022 when he was stationed in Norfolk, Virginia. The charge sheet does not specify which foreign government.

Originally from Tennessee, Pedicini enlisted in the Navy in 2008, according to his Navy record. During his career, he served on two other destroyers as well, the USS McFaul for nearly seven years and the USS Curtis Wilbur for more than five years. He was promoted to the rank of chief fire controlman in August 2022. He received three Good Conduct Medals and the National Defense Service Medal, according to his record.

CNN’s Natasha Bertrand and Oren Liebermann contributed to this report.

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US sailor found guilty at court martial on attempted espionage charges