YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — A sailor based at Fort Bragg, N.C., has been charged with four counts of the capital crime of attempted espionage, Navy Region Mid-Atlantic officials announced late Thursday.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Bryan Minkyu Martin also faces 11 counts of mishandling classified information, according to a Navy news release.

Martin is in custody at the naval brig in Norfolk, Va., where he has remained since shortly after being arrested Dec. 1 by federal agents in Fayetteville, N.C., according to the Navy.

Although espionage is a capital offense under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, Navy officials made no comment on whether they would pursue the death penalty, which is exceedingly rare. The penalty can be imposed if the crime affects the defense or retaliation against a large-scale attack, war plans, communications intelligence or major defense systems and strategy, according to the UCMJ.

The only servicemember to receive the death sentence in nearly 50 years is Pvt. Ronald Gray, whose execution was approved by President George W. Bush in 2008 after Gray was convicted of rape and murder in 1988. That case is currently under appeal, according to The Associated Press.

Pfc. Bradley Manning, who allegedly leaked hundreds of thousands of classified cables to the Wikileaks website, faces the capital crime of aiding the enemy. Prosecutors in that case have already said that they will not pursue the death penalty, though that decision is ultimately up to Military District of Washington commander Maj. Gen. Karl R. Horst, Army officials said last week.

In comparison, Martin is accused with committing far less damage than Manning.

Martin never successfully delivered classified information to anyone unauthorized to see it, Naval Criminal Investigative Service officials said in December, according to media reports.

Martin accepted $3,500 from an undercover FBI agent in exchange for dozens of pages of documents that were classified either secret or top secret, according to a 2010 warrant filed in Eastern District Court in North Carolina and obtained by the AP.

During the initial Nov. 15 meeting with the undercover agent at a Hampton Inn near Fort Bragg, N.C., Martin told the agent his current assignment focused on Afghanistan, and that he would one day work for the Defense Intelligence Agency, according to the warrant.

“Martin stated that over his prospective 15 to 20 year career, he could be very valuable,” the warrant says, according to AP.

Martin was paid $500 on Nov. 15 and promised more money for future deliveries, according to the warrant. At two later meetings, Martin handed over documents in exchange for two payments of $1,500 in cash before being arrested by NCIS and Federal Bureau of Investigation agents.

Martin, who was 22 at the time of his arrest, is a native of Mexico, N.Y., according to AP.

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