Sunday, October 2, 2022

Navy nuclear engineer accused of trying to pass on secrets

WASHINGTON (AP) – A naval nuclear engineer with access to military secrets has been accused of trying to pass information on the design of American nuclear submarines to someone he believed to be a representative of a foreign government, but who turned out to be an undercover FBI agent told the ministry on Sunday justice.

In a statement, a criminal complaint detailing the charges of espionage against Jonathan TOBB government announced that it sold for the last year contact, which, in his opinion, was a foreign power. This country was not named in court documents.

Tobbe, 42, was arrested in West Virginia on Saturday along with his wife, Diana, 45, after placing a removable memory card in a pre-arranged “dead end” in the state, according to the Justice Department.

It was not immediately clear whether the Tobbsov from Annapolis, Maryland, lawyers. The Navy declined to comment on Sunday.

The FBI claims that the scheme began in April 2020, when Jonathan TOBB Navy sent a package of documents to a foreign government, and wrote that he was interested in selling the country manuals, performance reports and other confidential information.

Authorities say he also gave instructions on how to conduct a clandestine relationship in a letter that said, “I apologize for this poor translation into your language. Please forward this letter to your military intelligence. I believe this information will be of great value to your people. This is not a prank. “

The package, which had a return address in Pittsburgh, was received by the FBI last December through its legal attaché in an unspecified foreign country. The court documents do not explain how and from whom the FBI came for the package.

In any event, the FBI used Toebbe’s information support as a launching pad for a months-long covert operation in which an agent posing as a foreign contact contacted Toebbe and agreed to pay thousands of dollars in cryptocurrency for the information Toebbe was offering. …

After several weeks of rewriting email agent undercover in June sent Toebbe about 10 000 dollars in cryptocurrency, calling it a sign of good faith and trust, the FBI reported.

Weeks later, federal agents watched Tobbs arrive at an agreed location in West Virginia for an exchange, and Diana Tobbe appeared to be on the lookout for her husband during a dead-end operation for which the FBI paid $ 20,000.

According to court documents, the FBI found a blue memory card wrapped in plastic and placed between two slices of bread on half a peanut butter sandwich. On the memory card were recorded elements of the design and performance characteristics of the reactors of submarines such as “Virginia”.

The Justice Department describes the submarines as “fast cruise missile submarines that use the latest technology in stealth, intelligence gathering and weapons systems.”

There was also a printed message on the memory card, which, in particular, said: “I hope your experts are very happy with the sample provided and I understand the importance of a small exchange to increase our confidence.”

The FBI ran similar win-win exchanges over the next several months, including one in August in eastern Virginia, for which Tobbe was paid roughly $ 70,000. In this case, prosecutors said he hid a memory card containing schematic drawings of a Virginia-class submarine in a chewing gum package.

The complaint refers to violation of the Atomic Energy Act, which restricts the disclosure of information related to nuclear weapons or nuclear materials.

It is expected that Tobbs the first time appear in court on Tuesday in Martinsburg, West Virginia.

According to the FBI, Jonathan Tobbe has worked for the US government since 2012 with top-secret security clearance and specializing in naval nuclear power plants. He has also been assigned to a government laboratory in the Pittsburgh area that officials say is working on nuclear power for the US Navy.

No one answered at Toebbe residence on Sunday afternoon in the coastal community of the Annapolis River in South River. An outside light was burning over the door of their house, and a dog was barking inside.

John Cooley, who lives across the street from Toebbes, said he counted over 30 FBI agents in his block on Saturday from about 2:30 pm until dark. He said that agents entered the house.

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Associated Press contributors Brian Witte in Annapolis, Robert Burns in Washington, and Adrian Sines in Memphis contributed to this report.

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Listen for reports Eric Tucker on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/etuckerAP

Nation World News Desk
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