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Maryland couple charged with attempting to sell US nuclear submarine secrets

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A couple accused of trying to sell U.S. secrets of nuclear submarines to a foreign country now faces life in prison after a grand jury indicted the case after it emerged that the woman complained about her salary and Donald Trump’s election win.

Jonathan and Diana Toebbe, both of Annapolis, Maryland, were indicted Tuesday by a Grand Jury in Elkins, West Virginia, on national security charges, the Justice Department said.

Both were charged with one count of conspiracy to pass on limited data and two counts of communication of limited data, which carries a possible life sentence behind bars.

They were arrested in West Virginia on October 9 and previously charged with violation of the Atomic Energy Act. The couple is due to appear in federal court on Wednesday for a hearing on detention.

Diana Tubbe

Jonathan and Diana Toebbe, both of Annapolis, Maryland, were indicted Tuesday by a Grand Jury in Elkins, West Virginia, on national security charges.

They were probably motivated by a thirst for money and discontent with the United States, especially the Trump administration, which they expressed their despair over.

They were probably motivated by a thirst for money and discontent with the United States, especially the Trump administration, which they expressed their despair over.

Jonathan Toebbe, a Navy nuclear engineer, is accused of passing information about submarine design to someone he believed to be a foreign government representative, but who was actually an undercover FBI agent.

Court documents do not reveal the identity of the foreign country to whom he is accused of trying to sell the information, but it is believed to be an ally or neutral state since the foreign government notified the US of the plot.

Undercover agents then posed as members of that foreign government to get their hands on the pair, it is alleged, amid claims they were spurred on by a desire for money and anger over Donald Trump’s 2016 election victory.

Prosecutors say Diana Toebbe accompanied her husband several times to pre-arranged “dead-drop” locations where he left memory cards containing the sensitive information.

A detailed investigation into the couple’s backgrounds by the New York Times reveals that they were likely motivated by a thirst for money and discontent with the United States, especially the Trump administration.

After their house went under water during the Great Recession and they had to sell at a loss, Jonathan Toebbe left his doctorate in nuclear physics to join the Navy, a faster path to higher income.

Diana Toebbe, meanwhile, often complained about her salary as a teacher at an elite private high school, often pointing out that she had a PhD, students and colleagues say.

Jonathan (pictured) and Diana Toebbe were both charged with spying on the US after an unidentified foreign government was ordered to hold no bail during a court appearance Tuesday after it was determined they pose a

Jonathan and Diana (pictured) could face life in prison or a $100,000 fine and five years of supervised release

Jonathan Toebbe (left) and Diana Toebbe (right) were both charged with spying on the US for an unidentified foreign government and ordered to hold without bail during a trial Tuesday after they were determined to pose a “serious flight risk”

Jonathan Toebbe made $153,737 a year, according to U.S. government officials, while his wife reportedly earned about $60,000. The couple has two children and lived in their own home in a middle-class neighborhood in Annapolis.

Students and colleagues say Diana Toebbe became emotional and distraught after Donald Trump was elected to the White House in 2016, spoke out unusually about politics in the classroom and even discussed leaving the country.

The indictment alleges that on April 1, 2020, just weeks after the pandemic, Jonathan Toebbe sent a package to a foreign government, with a return address in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, containing a sample of classified information and instructions for entering into a secret order. relation.

Jonathan Toebbe entered into email correspondence with an undercover FBI agent posing as a foreign government representative, eventually handing over three items of nuclear sub-secrets in exchange for $100,000 paid in cryptocurrency, the indictment alleges.

The FBI also arranged a “signal” to Toebbe from the country’s embassy in Washington over Memorial Day weekend. The papers do not describe how the FBI was able to arrange such a signal.

In June 2021, the FBI says, the undercover agent sent $10,000 in cryptocurrency to Toebbe, describing it as a sign of good faith.

Weeks later, federal agents watched as the Toebbes arrived at a prearranged location in West Virginia for the exchange, with Diana Toebbe appearing to serve as a lookout for her husband during a dead-drop operation for which the FBI paid $20,000, according to the complaint.

Written communications between Jonathan and an undercover FBI agent posing as a foreign spy reveal that the engineer had been collecting classified military information over several years

Written communications between Jonathan and an undercover FBI agent posing as a foreign spy reveal that the engineer had been collecting classified military information over several years

The FBI found a blue memory card wrapped in plastic and placed between two slices of bread on a peanut butter sandwich, court documents said.

Jonathan also hid encrypted memory cards in a chewing gum wrapper and a plaster wrap at various return locations.

The FBI released the contents of the memory card to a Navy expert who determined the data contained design elements and performance characteristics of Virginia-class submarine reactors, the Justice Department said.

The FBI conducted similar dead-drop exchanges over the next few months, including one in August in Virginia, in which Toebbe was paid about $70,000 and hid in a gum wrapper a memory card containing schematic designs for the Virginia-class submarine, according to court documents.

Only six countries currently operate nuclear submarines: China, France, India, Russia, the UK and the US. The US and UK will provide Australia with the technology to deploy nuclear-powered submarines, as part of the first initiative under the new trilateral security partnership AUKUS.

The couple were held without bail during a trial on Tuesday after they were determined to pose a “serious flight risk.”

In a letter explaining what classified information he had obtained, Jonathan, who spent two years working on nuclear reactors in Arlington, Virginia, is said to have explained how he meticulously smuggled documents over the years.

The leaked secrets contain

The leaked secrets contain “militarily sensitive design elements, operational parameters and performance characteristics of Virginia-class submarine reactors,” according to an affidavit from the federal court.

“This information was collected slowly and carefully over a number of years in the normal course of my job to avoid attracting attention and smuggled past security checkpoints a few pages at a time,” he wrote.

‘I no longer have access to secret data, so unfortunately I can’t help you with other files. But I can answer your expert questions with my own knowledge, if we can establish a secure and confidential means of communication.”
He is also said to have suggested meeting his escort for a drink after their “mission was completed.”

An email sent by Jonathan Toebbe, according to prosecutors, said: “Thank you for your cooperation, also my friend. One day, if it’s safe, two old friends might get the chance to bump into each other in a cafe, drink a bottle of wine and laugh at stories of their shared exploits.

“A nice thought, but I agree that our mutual need for security makes that impossible. Whether we meet or not[sic]”I will always remember your courage to serve your country and your dedication to helping me.”

And written communications – reportedly shared by Jonathan and an undercover FBI agent posing as a foreign spy – show that the engineer and his wife were also willing to be taken to a safe country if their plot was revealed.

“I will be eternally grateful for your help in getting me and my family,” Jonathan is said to have written in an encrypted email documented in the indictment.

‘I suspect the first step would be an unannounced trip to a safe third country with plans to meet your colleagues. We have reserved passports and cash for this. I pray that such a drastic plan will never be necessary, but you are right: it is comforting to know that you are ready and willing to help us.”

The complaint also revealed that Jonathan had a long-standing relationship with the foreign entity, although the name of the country whose spies Jonathan allegedly believed to be communicating has not been shared.

Diana, a humanities teacher at a private K-12 school in Annapolis, Maryland, has been suspended indefinitely, a spokesperson confirmed to ABC News on Tuesday.

Matthew Nespole, principal of the Key School where Diana has worked for the past 10 years, said the academic establishment was “shocked and appalled” when it learned of the charges against de Toebbes.

“Key School had no prior knowledge of their alleged criminal activity, and the school is in no way involved in the investigation,” Nespole said. “Key School supports the administration of justice by the FBI and NCIS, and will cooperate with the investigation if requested by our school’s legal counsel.”

One of Diana’s former students, Craig Martien, – who worked with her on a yearbook and an after-school anthropology club – echoed the school principal’s claims, saying he too was shocked to hear the news.

“She was someone I really looked up to. I was totally blown away,” he said in an interview on Good Morning America on Wednesday.

Key School now focuses on ‘minimizing disruption to our students and supporting them emotionally’.

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