That writes the American news site NBC Washington.
Jonathan Toebbe, from Annapolis, Maryland, recorded the secret data on SD cards and hid it in a peanut butter sandwich, a band-aid package, and a pack of chewing gum. He then left the carefully hidden tickets at pre-arranged locations in West Virginia, Pennsylvania and East Virginia, the indictment states.
He sold the data to a person he believed to be a representative of a foreign government. The indictment does not specify which country it is. In reality, Toebbe had no contact with a foreign government, but with an undercover FBI agent.
Toebbe worked on the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program, authorities said. He had access to the top secret data through the US Department of Defense and the US Department of Energy (DOE).
On April 1, 2020, Jonathan Toebbe sent a package containing classified data with an explanation of how to purchase more information, a prosecutor said in a statement.
Months of correspondence with undercover agent
To gain Toebbe’s trust, the FBI conducted an operation last weekend in the Washington, DC area, placing a transmitter at a foreign government location that Toebbe believed he had been corresponding with for months.
Toebbe later came to an agreement with the undercover agent to hand over the classified information in exchange for thousands of dollars in the cryptocurrency Monero, the indictment said.
Toebe would always have ‘dropped’ SD cards at agreed locations at intervals of about a month. The first delivery was made on June 26 in West Virginia. The transfer of the other SD cards was on July 31, in a sealed patch package. And on August 28 in a pack of chewing gum. His wife Diana Toebbe was reportedly always on the lookout.
The FBI arrested Jonathan and Diana Toebbe in Jefferson County last Saturday after Jonathan left another SD card at a prearranged spot.
“Toebbe is being charged with providing information about our nuclear submarines to a foreign country,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement.
“Jonathan and Diana Toebbe are being charged with alleged violations of the Atomic Energy Act. The couple is due to appear in court for the first time on Tuesday in Martinsburg, West Virginia.
It is not yet clear whether the couple has already hired a lawyer.