FBI sting to catch Navy spy was apparently aided by the foreign country approached to buy U.S. nuclear secrets
Federal prosecutors said Monday they will be moving to pre-trial detention for Jonathan and Diana Toebbe, a humble Maryland couple who were arrested on Saturday and accused of "restricting data" to an unidentified foreign government for US $ 5 million Selling dollars in cryptocurrency. The Toebbes were arrested in West Virginia when they found their latest "dead drops" of closely guarded US nuclear submarine secrets for an undercover agent they believed represented the foreign government, according to the FBI .
Jonathan Toebbe, a Navy nuclear engineer, was initially reluctant to give the classified information in person, as court documents show. "I'm concerned that using a dead-drop location your friend is preparing will make me very vulnerable," he reportedly told his undercover FBI agent. "If other interested parties observe the location, I cannot discover them."
Before Toebbe agreed to hand in loaded memory cards - in sealed plaster packs, chewing gum wrappers and a peanut butter sandwich - he asked his alleged presenter to get a signal from their Washington embassy from abroad on Memorial Day weekend. Court records say. The fact that that country "sent the unspecified signal suggests its collaboration with the United States throughout the investigation," reports the New York Times.
"In fact, a foreign government practically betrayed him to the FBI," says Eric Tucker of The Associated Press. "That would suggest that it's probably not necessarily China or Russia." And Toebbe's news shows that the country doesn't speak English. "While some experts speculated that France might have been the target, French officials said they were not involved in the incident," reports the Times.
"While most espionage cases don't involve peanut butter and band-aids, the alleged facts follow a familiar pattern," David Laufman, a former senior Justice Department official, told the Washington Post. "It strikes me, however, that a foreign government has not only notified the FBI of the receipt of sensitive US military technology with potential benefits to that administration's defense capabilities, but also appears to have been actively involved in maintaining a relationship of trust between the FBI and the alleged US Spies are supposed to facilitate their identification and arrest. "
The Toebbes are on trial on Tuesday. Diana Toebbe, who was accused of acting as a lookout, was suspended indefinitely from her longstanding job as an English teacher at the progressive Key School on Monday. The couple have two children and no known financial problems.
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