A sailor was convicted of a particularly serious form of spying — ‘espionage’ under the UCMJ — by a military jury last week. Chief Petty Officer Bryce Pedicini was found guilty on Friday, April 19, according to the Naval Criminal Investigative Service for attempting to transmit “classified and national defense information” to a foreign agent.

Pedicini was charged with espionage under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which — unlike most civilian charges — could have carried a death penalty, though Pedicini was not charged with capital offenses. The trial represents a break from other recent spying-related Navy trials, in which sailors are often charged and tried in civilian federal court.

The decision came after a seven-day trial. Prior to his arrest, Pedicini served aboard the USS Higgins, an Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer, stationed in Yokosuka, Japan. He was arrested on May 19, 2023 and put in pre-trial confinement.

Charges against the sailor were announced in February, months after his arrest in 2023. According to the case against him, Pedicini shared “classified and national defense information“ with an agent of a foreign government — the case did not specify which nation — on seven different occasions in Virginia between November 2022 and February 2023. Pedicini did so while pretending to be writing research papers, NCIS said.

The USS Higgins (photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Carla Ocampo/U.S. Navy)
The USS Higgins (photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Carla Ocampo/U.S. Navy)

“This guilty verdict holds Mr. Pedicini to account for his betrayal of his country and fellow service members,” NCIS Director Omar Lopez said in a statement. 

According to prosecutors, Pedicini tried to share this information while aware that “it would be used to the injury of the United States and to the advantage of a foreign nation.” What kind of information that was exactly was not disclosed. He also allegedly attempted to share photos of a Secret Internet Protocol Router Network while back in Japan, just prior to his arrest. The SIPR networks are used by the military for transferring classified information internally, and the machines used for that are also kept under strict security.

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The Tennessee native joined the U.S Navy in 2008, reaching the rank of chief petty officer in August 2022. Before serving on the USS Higgins he served aboard USS McFaul and USS Curtis Wilbur.

Pedicini will be sentenced on May 7.

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