Couple arrested for selling information about US nuclear warship
- Jonathan traded data for around $ 100,000 in cryptocurrency
- In April, he sent a package to a foreign government
- Couple Arrested After Leaving SD Card At Dead Drop Site
An American couple have been arrested in the state of West Virginia for allegedly selling information about nuclear warships to what they believed to be a foreign state, the Department of Justice said on Sunday.
Jonathan Toebbe, who worked as a nuclear engineer for the US Navy, and his wife Diana – both in their 40s – were arrested by Federal Bureau of Investigation agents on Saturday and charged with violating atomic energy law in a criminal complaint, the Justice Department said in a statement.
For nearly a year, the couple “sold information known as Restricted Data regarding the design of nuclear-powered warships to someone they believed to be a representative of a foreign power,” the report said. statement, adding that the recipient of the information was, in fact, an undercover FBI agent.
Jonathan Toebbe, who had access to restricted data on nuclear-powered warships through his work, worked with his wife to exchange data on submarine nuclear reactors for around $ 100,000 in cryptocurrency, according to the affidavit of the complaint.
The affidavit says Toebbe in April 2020 sent a package to a foreign government “containing a restricted data sample and instructions to establish a secret relationship,” the statement said.
According to the complaint, the FBI intercepted the package and the undercover agent impersonated a foreign government official in order to establish a relationship with the couple.
The agent sent Jonathan Toebbe, who used the pseudonym “Alice”, an email offering him a gift as a thank you for the data. But Toebbe responded cautiously, asking instead to set up a “dead drop” location and get paid in cryptocurrency.
Over the next few months, the couple transferred several data SD cards to the agent. In the first dead fall, “the SD card was wrapped in plastic and placed between two slices of bread on a half peanut butter sandwich,” the agent said in the complaint.
Other SD cards were hidden in a bubble gum wrap and sealed Band-Aid wrap, with the Band-Aid still inside.
The couple were arrested on Saturday after leaving another SD card at a dead drop site.
US Attorney General Merrick Garland praised the agencies involved for “foiling the plot” and “taking this first step in bringing the perpetrators to justice,” the statement said.
The Defense Ministry declined to comment when contacted by AFP.
The couple are scheduled to appear in West Virginia federal court on October 12.
US nuclear submarines received special attention recently when Australia and Britain unveiled a new defense contract for such submarines in September, negotiated secretly for several months.
In order to join the pact, Australia tore up a historic multi-million dollar contract with France, sparking an international feud that saw Paris recall its ambassador to Canberra.
(Except for the title, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and is posted from a syndicated feed.)