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US engineer admits trying to sell nuclear sub secrets

US engineer admits trying to sell nuclear sub secrets

Photo taken on Monday shows F-35B fighter jets on the deck of British aircraft carrier the Queen Elizabeth at the US Navy base in Yokosuka, southwest of Tokyo. Photo: AFP

A US Navy engineer admitted in federal court on Monday that he tried to sell secrets about nuclear submarines to a foreign power, the Justice Department said.

Jonathan Toebbe, 43, pleaded guilty before a federal judge, more than four months after being arrested with his wife Diana Toebbe.

In exchange for his guilty plea, he is expected to be sentenced to between 12.5 to 17.5 years in prison.

His wife, a teacher, has so far maintained her innocence and sought release to care for their two teenage children. But her husband’s plea deal also incriminates her.

“Diana Toebbe knowingly and voluntarily joined the conspiracy to communicate Restricted Data to another person with the intent to secure an advantage to a foreign nation and committed multiple overt acts in furtherance of the conspiracy, including acting as a lookout while Mr. Toebbe serviced three dead drops,” the document said. The court documents did not, however, say which country the couple tried to sell their information to.

According to court documents, the country that Toebbe believed he was selling the secrets to was cooperating with the FBI, to the point of placing a flag in its Washington embassy to gain Toebbe’s confidence.