Brazil was alleged intended recipient of US couple’s nuclear submarine secrets

The country that an American spy couple tried to sell nuclear submarine secrets to last year has been revealed to be ブラジル.

Jonathan and Diana Toebbe, a suburban couple who lived in Annapolis, メリーランド, だった 逮捕された last October and charged with attempting to sell the design of US nuclear-powered submarines to someone they thought was a representative of a foreign power – but who turned out to be an undercover FBI agent.

The identity of the foreign power had remained concealed until now. According to a Brazilian official and others familiar with the investigation, Jonathan Toebbe approached Brazil nearly two years ago and offered to provide classified documents he had stolen from the US Navy Yard in Washington, ニューヨークタイムズ 報告.

Toebbe, who planned for years to sell the information to a foreign power, had worked for the US government since 2012. He held a top-secret security clearance and specialized in naval nuclear propulsion, according to the FBI. 一点に, he was assigned to a laboratory in Pittsburgh that focused on nuclear power development for the US navy, 前記 役人.

The FBI’s investigation into the Toebbes began in December 2020 when the FBI received a package addressed to a foreign country. It included operational manuals and technical details. による court documents, the package was intercepted in the Brazilian mail system and rerouted to an FBI legal attache.

“Please forward this letter to your military intelligence agency,” a note accompanying the package read. “I believe this information will be of great value to your nation. This is not a hoax.”

The FBI proceeded to initiate an encrypted conversation with the Toebbes who offered highly classified navy secrets in exchange for $100,000 in cryptocurrency.

A person familiar with the investigation told the New York Times that although the US government wanted to initially disclose the name of the involved country, Brazilian officials did not want their cooperation to be publicly revealed.

A senior Brazilian official told the outlet that Brazil cooperated with American investigators because of close bilateral relations and friendly relations between the intelligence services.

Brazilian officials and the FBI cooperated after Jonathan Toebbe was hesitant to perform a dead drop, a method of passing information using a secret location.

による court records, Toebbe wrote to his contact, who was in fact an FBI undercover agent, “I am concerned that using a dead drop location your friend prepares makes me very vulnerable … For now, I must consider the possibility that you are not the person I hope you are.”

He then asked his contact for “some physical signal you can make that proves your identity to me”.

“I could plan to visit Washington DC over the Memorial Day weekend. I would just be another tourist in the crowd. Perhaps you could fly a signal flag on your roof? Something easily observable from the street, but nothing to arouse an adversaries [sic] suspicion?」

With the cooperation of Brazilian officials, the FBI undercover agent told Toebbe to look for a signal in the window of a Brazilian government building in Washington last year during Memorial Day weekend.

Toebbe saw the sign and agreed to deliver the sample of secrets in a peanut butter sandwich to West Virginia. He and his wife were arrested six months later.

Speaking to 保護者, one former intelligence official who requested anonymity said, “What’s striking is the level of cooperation to place a signal inside the embassy and ​that he refers to himself as an amateur when his tradecraft was quite sophisticated.”

2月中, the Toebbes pleaded guilty to espionage charges. Jonathan Toebbe faces up to 17 and a half years in prison while Diana Toebbe faces up to three.