A US navy nuclear engineer and his wife have been charged with attempting to sell nuclear secrets to a foreign state.
Jonathan Toebbe and his wife Diana were apprehended in West Virginia on Saturday, according to the Justice Department.
They allegedly attempted to sell nuclear submarine design data concealed in a peanut butter sandwich to someone they mistook for a representative of another country.
It was, in fact, an undercover FBI agent.
Mr. Toebbe and his partner, ages 42 and 45, have now been charged under the Atomic Energy Act, according to the statement.
Mr. Toebbe had a national security clearance and worked in the US Navy’s nuclear propulsion program.
According to the Justice Department, in April 2020, he sent a package containing restricted data and a message implying a covert relationship to a foreign government in order for them to purchase more data from him.
He allegedly then began writing to a specific individual via encrypted email. According to the affidavit, while he mistook this person for a representative of a foreign government, they were actually an FBI agent.
After several months, the accused couple allegedly agreed to share confidential information in exchange for approximately $100,000 (£73,000) in cryptocurrency.
Jonathan and Diana Toebbe traveled to West Virginia in June of this year to drop off the data.
Jonathan “placed an SD card concealed within half a peanut butter sandwich” at a predetermined location with Diana acting as a lookout, according to the affidavit.
Following the collection of the card, the agent sent payment and received a decryption key to access the SD card. It contained restricted data “relating to submarine nuclear reactors.”
Mr Toebbe then carried out a second so-called dead drop in August, this time hidden inside a chewing gum packet, with even more secret data on it.France Recalls Its Ambassadors To The United States And Australia In Protest Of The Submarine Deal
The couple was then apprehended by FBI agents on Saturday during a third dead drop.
The couple is scheduled to appear in federal court on October 12th.Read on BBC