For almost a year in the United States, a couple sold secret plans for nuclear-powered ships. However, they were in contact with a double agent.
A US couple has been arrested on suspicion of nuclear espionage. As the Justice Department in Washington announced on Sunday, the two sold secret plans for nuclear-powered US warships to an employee of the Federal Police FBI, whom they believed to be a representative of a foreign government, for almost a year.
The husband, 42-year-old Jonathan Toebbe, worked as a nuclear engineer for the US Navy, the ministry said. Through his work, he had access to secret data on nuclear-powered submarines, which he and his 45-year-old wife Diana sold for a total of around 100,000 dollars (86,000 euros) in crypto currency. The FBI employee worked as an undercover agent.
In April 2020, the husband first sent a package with secret data to a foreign government in order to establish contact, it said. This package was intercepted, whereupon an FBI agent presented himself to the couple as a representative of the foreign government.
The couple then handed over numerous memory cards to the undercover FBI agent over the course of months – among other things, hidden in a peanut butter sandwich or a chewing gum pack that were left behind at previously agreed locations. According to investigations by the US authorities, the couple handed over “militarily sensitive planning elements” and “reference values for the use and performance of the Virginia-class nuclear submarines” to the agent at the end of June.
The couple, who live in the state of West Virginia, have to appear in court on Tuesday.