Navy chief in San Diego military brig on espionage charges

SAN DIEGO, Calif. — A Navy chief charged with espionage is being held at a military brig in San Diego.

Chief Petty Officer Fire Controlman Bryce Pedicini is accused of spying while stationed near Yokosuka, Japan and at Hampton Roads, Virginia on the USS Higgins Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer.

The Navy alleges in charging documents Pedicini wrongfully transmitted classified information, failed to report a foreign contact, and wrongfully took a personal device into a secure room.

The alleged espionage happened from November 2022 – May 2023. The Navy is giving few details about the case.

Last May, Pedicini took photos of a classified computer screen for the benefit of a citizen and employee of a foreign government, U.S. Pacific Fleet Commander Justin Taylor alleges in charging documents.

National security expert Ron Bee suggested a few explanations of what the photos may have showed.

“It could have been plans that were on the computer. It could have been orders that came to the ship for where they are to deploy. Sharing those orders is giving a tip to the enemy where you’re going,” Bee said.

Bee, who’s done work for the Pentagon, said based on the geography and type of ship Pedicini was on, he suspects the foreign government is one of America’s leading enemies.

“He was based in Japan when much of this occurred, so this would lead me to believe that it’s likely someone from China.”

Bee said China is eager to learn what it can about destroyers like the USS Higgins. The ships are what the Navy is about to deploy around Taiwan to help protect it from invasion, he said.

“What is preventing China from taking over Taiwan? It’s the presence of the U.S. Navy, the Japanese Navy.”

The Chinese embassy in Los Angeles didn’t return a request for comment on Thursday.

Cmdr. Arlo Abrahamson said Pedicini has been given a military-appointed attorney but declined to give the lawyer’s name so we could ask for comment. He declined to say what base in San Diego Pedicini is being held at.

“The incident remains under investigation and legal proceedings continue,” he said in a prepared statement.

Pedicini’s arrest comes on the heels of two other espionage cases involving Navy Sailors.

Last summer, authorities arrested Jinchao Wei for spying when he showed up to work at Naval Base San Diego.

The same day, the Department of Justice announced charges against Wenheng Zhao for taking bribes in exchange for trading sensitive military information to a Chinese intelligence officer.

A judge sentenced Zhao, who worked at Naval Base Ventura County, to more than two years in prison last month. The case against Wei continues.

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