Washington: An American couple has been arrested in the state of West Virginia for allegedly selling information about nuclear warplanes.
Jonathan Tobe, 42, a nuclear engineer in the U.S. Navy, and his wife, Diana, 45, were arrested Saturday by Federal Bureau of Investigation agents and charged with violating the Atomic Energy Act in a criminal complaint. accused of. In a statement
For almost a year, the couple “sold information about the design of nuclear warplanes to a man they thought was a representative of a foreign power,” the statement said. Secret FBI agent
US nuclear-powered submarines were at the center of a major diplomatic crisis between Paris and Washington last month, when Australia scrapped a major deal to buy submarines from France.
Toby, who lives in Annapolis, Maryland and has limited access to data on nuclear-powered warships through his work, and his wife exchanged data on submarine nuclear reactors in cryptocurrency. Done for about 100 100,000.
When Toby first tried to contact a foreign government – which was not identified in the affidavit – he wrote, “I apologize for this poor translation in your language. Please read this letter.” Send your complaint to the Military Intelligence Agency. “
“I am sure this information will be very important to your nation. This is not a hoax.”
According to the statement, the affidavit states that Toby sent a package to the foreign government in April 2020 containing “a sample of limited data and instructions for establishing confidential relations”.
According to the complaint, the FBI withheld the package, and the secret agent presented the couple as a representative of a foreign government to establish a relationship.
The agent sent Jonathan Tobey, who used the nickname “Alice”, an email offering him a gift of data thanks. But Toby responded cautiously, instead setting up a “dead drop” location and making payments in cryptocurrency.
The couple transferred data to several encrypted SD (secure digital) card agents in the following months. In the first dead drop, “the SD card was wrapped in plastic and half a peanut butter sandwich was placed between two loaves of bread,” the agent said in the complaint.
The other SD cards were hidden in a chewing gum package and a printed band-aid wrapper, which still has band-aid.
The couple was arrested on Saturday after dropping another SD card at a dead drop spot.
According to the statement, US Attorney General Merck Garland praised the agencies involved in “thwarting the conspiracy” and “taking this first step to bring the perpetrators to justice”.
The Defense Department declined to comment when contacted by AFP.
The couple is scheduled to appear in federal court in West Virginia on October 12.
The US nuclear-powered submarines have been the focus of recent attention since Australia and Britain unveiled a new defense deal for all of them in September, after months of secret talks.
To join the deal, Australia tore up a landmark multi-million dollar deal with France, opening up an international line that recalled its ambassador from Canberra to Paris.