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Navy nuclear engineer arrested for espionage

A guided-missile submarine and a guided-missile cruiser cross the Persian Gulf in December 2020. Associated Press/Photo by Mass Communication Spc. 2nd Class Indra Beaufort/U.S. Navy

Navy nuclear engineer arrested for espionage

Jonathan Toebbe, 42, has worked for the U.S. Navy since 2012 with top-secret security clearance in the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program. He and his wife Diana, 45, were arrested in West Virginia on Saturday during an attempt to pass information to a foreign government. Toebbe discovered the representative he had been passing secrets to for the past year was actually an undercover FBI agent. Federal prosecutors plan to charge the couple with violating the Atomic Energy Act, which prevents those with security clearance from sharing top-secret information about atomic weapons or nuclear materials. They face life in prison if convicted.

What happened? An FBI legal attache office in an unidentified foreign country intercepted a package that Toebbe sent in April 2020. Toebbe offered to send operations manuals and performance reports. An FBI agent began communicating with Toebbe and gained his trust. He hid memory cards in sandwiches, gum packages, and bandage wrappers to pass along design and performance details of reactors for cruise missiles and fast-attack submarines. Diana Toebbe was a lookout for her husband while he left this information at designated locations in West Virginia.

Dig deeper: Listen to Sarah Schweinsberg report on changing intelligence agency operations on The World and Everything in It podcast.

Carolina Lumetta

Carolina is a reporter for WORLD Digital. She is a World Journalism Institute and Wheaton College graduate. She resides in Harrisburg, Pa.



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It should be noted that the FBI also passed on $10,000, $20,000 and $70,000 in cryptocurrency as seed money and bait as part of their trap. This should have been included in this article. Maybe you have a word limit?