U.S. Navy engineer arrested in an attempt to sell nuclear submarine secrets

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Vaibhav Agrawal
Vaibhav Agrawal
Vaibhav Agrawal is the founder editor of Bhraman (a Digital Travelogue). As an independent journalist, he is passionate for investigating and reporting on complex subjects. He has an extensive background in both print and digital media, with a focus on Travel and Defence reporting. *Views are personal

As reported by the US Department of Justice, In an attempt to sell confidential information, A Navy nuclear engineer of the state along with his spouse has been arrested on espionage charges.

The accused, identified as Jonathan Toebbe and his wife, Diana Toebbe, had violated the Atomic Energy Act as they attempted to sell the design of nuclear-powered warships and were arrested. 

The accused said the buyer seemed to be a representative of a foreign power, as per the court records unsealed on Sunday.

The entire story

A package was received by an FBI official in December the previous year, from someone who attempted in establishing a covert relationship with a representative from a foreign nation which in court documents is identified as “COUNTRY 1”

As per reports, containing a sample of restricted data was listed in a return address in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania by Toebbe along with instructions to establish a covert relationship for obtaining additional information. 

The deal made in cryptocurrency 

Toebbe started corresponding through encrypted email with an FBI agent who he believed to be an official representative of the foreign government by Toebbe. Before reaching an exchange agreement for several thousand dollars in cryptocurrency, Toebbe kept corresponding for many months.

Before agreeing to travel to West Virginia to complete the deal, around $10,000 were sent as a “good faith” payment by the undercover agent. At a prearranged “dread drop” location, an SD card was concealed by him within a peanut butter sandwich while his wife was acting as a lookout.

A decryption key was received by the undercover agent after making a cryptocurrency payment of $20,000 to Toebbe. The key was given for the SD card containing restricted data on US submarine nuclear reactors. 

Arrested after two more “dead drops”

Post two more “dead drops” Toebbe and his wife were arrested by the FBI agent on Saturday.

As per official reports, Toebbe was an employee at the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program with access to information with regards to operating parameters and performance characteristics of the reactors for nuclear-powered warships and the military sensitive design elements. 

Scheduled to make an appearance in the federal court in Martinsburg on Tuesday, the couple were charged with conspiracy to communicate restricted data.


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