U.S. scientist in espionage guilty plea

Sept. 7, 2011 at 12:18 PM   |   Comments

WASHINGTON, Sept. 7 (UPI) -- A noted U.S. scientist who formerly worked for NASA and the Department of Defense pleaded guilty to attempted espionage, federal officials said.

Stewart David Nozette pleaded guilty Wednesday to attempted espionage for providing classified information to an FBI undercover agent he believed to be an Israeli intelligence officer, a Department of Justice release said Wednesday.

Nozette, 54, of Chevy Chase, Md., was arrested in 2009 and indicted by a federal grand jury.

Under a plea agreement, Nozette faces a prison term of 13 years.

"Stewart Nozette betrayed America's trust by attempting to sell some of the nation's most closely-guarded secrets for profit," Lisa Monaco, Assistant Attorney General for National Security, said.

The investigation began when law enforcement agents executed a search warrant at Nozette's home in 2007 as part of a fraud and tax evasion investigation and found classified documents.

Further investigation uncovered an e-mail sent by Nozette threatening to take a classified program he was working on, "to [foreign country] or Israel and do it there selling internationally ..."

The indictment against Nozette does not allege the government of Israel or anyone acting on its behalf committed any offense under U.S. laws in the case.

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