Voice of Maharashtra

FBI sting operation nets couple accused of trying to sell US nuclear secrets

Following a year-long operation by undercover FBI agents, a Maryland couple has been arrested and charged with attempting to sell US nuclear secrets to another country in exchange for cryptocurrency.
US Navy nuclear engineer Jonathan Toebbe, who held a top-secret security clearance, and his wife Diana were arrested Saturday in West Virginia by the FBI and Naval Criminal Investigative Service after the couple allegedly sold information concerning the design of nuclear-powered US warships" to a person they believed was a representative of a foreign power but was actually an undercover FBI agent," according to a Department of Justice statement.
The Washington Post first reported on the alleged espionage plot.
The Justice Department said Toebbe had access to information on naval nuclear propulsion and sensitive military design elements including "operating parameters and performance characteristics of the reactors for nuclear powered warships."
An FBI agent in a criminal complaint justifying the arrest alleges Toebbe first sent a package to a foreign government in April 2020 offering to sell the nuclear secrets, and an undercover FBI agent responded several months later via an encrypted email program and corresponded with him. The agent worked on gaining Toebbe's trust before he allegedly agreed to sell the information for thousands of dollars in cryptocurrency, according to the complaint.
According to the complaint, the FBI "conducted an operation in the Washington, DC area that involved placing a signal at a location associated with (the foreign government) in an attempted effort to gain bona fides with 'ALICE,'" the name Toebbe used as an alias when penning emails.
During what Toebbe believed to be a "dead drop," or a hiding spot spies use to secretly pass information, the FBI said it arrested Jonathan and Diana on Saturday after Jonathan "placed yet another SD card" with classified information at a pre-arranged location in West Virginia. The couple has been charged with violations of the Atomic Energy Act, which prohibits anyone with access to classified information from sharing that information. The complaint claims the Toebbes attempted to "communicate, transmit, and disclose the same to another person with the intent to injure the United States and to secure an advantage to a foreign nation."