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U.S. Navy engineer, wife accused of selling secrets to foreign nation

Oct. 10 (UPI) -- A U.S. Navy nuclear engineer and his wife were arrested for working together in an effort to provide military secrets to a foreign government, the U.S. Department of Justice said Sunday.

Jonathan Tobbe, 42, and his wife Diana Toebbe, 45, both of Annapolis, Md., were arrested by the FBI and Naval Criminal Investigative Service in West Virginia on Saturday after they sold information known as Restricted Data concerning the design of a nuclear-powered warship to an FBI agent posing as a representative of a foreign power for more than a year, the Justice Department said in a statement.

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Both were charged with violations of the Atomic Energy Act.

"The complaint charges a plot to transmit information relating to the design of our nuclear submarines to a foreign nation," U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said. "The work of the FBI, Department of Justice prosecutors, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service and the Department of Energy was critical in thwarting the plot charged in the complaint and taking the first step in bringing the perpetrators to justice."

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Toebbe worked as a nuclear engineer for the Department of the Navy and had an active national security clearance granting him access to Restricted Data.

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According to the complaint, he sent a package to a foreign government on April 1, 2020, listing a return address in Pittsburgh containing a sample of Restricted Data and an FBI official in the unnamed country obtained the package and began communicating with Toebbe.

In June 8, 2021, the undercover agent sent Toebbe $10,000 in cryptocurrency as a "good faith" payment and Toebbe and his wife began traveling to locations in West Virginia and Pennsylvania where they left SD cards containing Restricted Data disguised in items including a peanut butter sandwich and a chewing gum package.

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They were arrested while conducting a similar drop in West Virginia on Saturday.

The couple are set to appear in court in Martinsburg, W.Va., on Tuesday.

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