Salem Radio Network News Friday, November 26, 2021

U.S.

U.S. naval nuclear engineer, wife due in court on espionage charges

By Jan Wolfe

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Federal prosecutors on Wednesday are expected to ask a judge to jail a former U.S. Navy nuclear engineer and his wife while they await trial on charges they attempted to sell secrets about nuclear submarines to a foreign power.

Jonathan Toebbe and his wife, Diana, were arrested on Oct. 9 in Jefferson County, West Virginia, following a yearlong sting operation by undercover FBI agents, the Justice Department said in a statement.

Currently in federal custody, they are scheduled to appear at a federal courthouse in Martinsburg, West Virginia for a detention hearing.

They have not yet been asked to enter a plea to the charges.

Nicholas Compton, a lawyer for Toebbe, declined to comment.

Toebbe, 42, a nuclear engineer with top-secret security clearance, is accused of sending Navy documents to an unnamed foreign entity in 2020, along with instructions on how to obtain additional information.

The Justice Department did not name the country involved.

Toebbe, with the aid of his 45-year-old wife, allegedly sold secrets to an undercover FBI agent posing as a foreign official over the course of several months, the Justice Department said.

At one point, Toebbe hid a digital memory card containing documents about submarine nuclear reactors in half a peanut butter sandwich at a “dead drop” location in West Virginia while his wife acted as lookout, the Justice Department said.

The memory card contained “militarily sensitive design elements, operating parameters and performance characteristics of Virginia-class submarine reactors,” according to a federal court affidavit.

Another memory card was concealed in a chewing gum package, the Justice Department said.

Toebbe received separate cryptocurrency payments totaling $100,000, according to the Justice Department.

Officials said Toebbe and his wife, who are from Annapolis, Maryland, were arrested after placing another memory card at a drop site in West Virginia. They were charged with conspiracy and “communication of restricted data,” according to a criminal complaint.

(Reporting by Jan Wolfe; Editing by Karishma Singh)

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