A nuclear engineer from Maryland and his wife have been arrested on charges of selling secret information about the design of nuclear-powered warships to someone they thought was a foreign power but was in fact an undercover FBI agent.
The Department of Justice claims that Jonathan Toebbe, through his Pentagon-issued national security clearance, had access to limited data on nuclear weapons technology and used that access to send a package to a foreign government on April 1, 2020. Subsequently, the statement claimed that he began responding with a , he thought was an agent in another country, but who was an undercover FBI agent. Legal documents claim that the marine engineer agreed to sell this limited data to the undercover agent for $ 10,000 in cryptocurrency.
Toebbe and his wife, Diana, then reportedly went to West Virginia, where the Navy engineer placed a memory card inside a half peanut sandwich with his wife looking. According to the Ministry of Justice, the map contained limited data on submarine reactors.
Based on the criminal complaint, the engineer at one point suspected a trap, but continued with several such “dead drops”.
“I’m sorry to be so stubborn and unreliable, but I can not accept going to a place you choose,” the engineer said according to a criminal complaint. “I have to consider the possibility that I am communicating with an opponent who has intercepted my first message and is trying to expose me.”
Attorney General Merrick Garland said the complaint “charges a conspiracy to transfer information about the design of our nuclear submarines to a foreign nation.”
“The work of the FBI, the Department of Justice, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, and the Energy Department were critical of countering the conspiracy charged in the indictment and taking this first step in bringing the perpetrators to justice,” Garland said.
CBS News’ Catherine Herridge contributed to this report