Prosecutors in the United States asked on Monday that a Navy engineer remain locked up while they continue to pursue charges that he tried to sell undersea secrets to another country.

Jonathan Toebbe’s arrest memorandum was filed ahead of a federal court appearance in West Virginia scheduled for Tuesday. The Justice Department filed an identical motion for Toebbe’s wife, Diana, who was also arrested Saturday.

Jonathan Toebbe is accused of passing on design information about sophisticated Virginia-class submarines to someone he believed to be a representative of a foreign government, but who was actually an undercover FBI agent. The identity of the country was not revealed in court documents.

According to the documents, Toebbe approached the other country in April 2020 to offer information about the submarines and provide instructions on how to maintain a stealth dialogue. But the package he sent was obtained eight months later by the FBI, which initiated contact with Toebbe through an undercover agent who agreed to pay thousands of dollars in cryptocurrency in exchange for government secrets.

Toebbe left memory cards containing confidential documents in preset locations, hiding them in places like a peanut butter sandwich, inside a pack of gum or a bandage wrapper, the FBI said. His wife Diana Toebbe accompanied him on several occasions, including serving as a lookout during one such operation in Jefferson County, West Virginia, court documents say.

It is unknown if the Toebbes have a lawyer commenting on their legal situation.

Among other charges, prosecutors believe that the Toebbe represent a risk of flight and obstruction of justice and could also be charged under the Atomic Energy Act, the penalty of which includes life imprisonment or death.


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