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.
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