Jonathan and Diana Toby accused of trying to sell U.S. nuclear secrets

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US Navy nuclear engineer Jonathan Toebbe and his wife Diana were arrested by the FBI and the Naval Criminal Investigation Bureau in West Virginia on Saturday for allegedly selling information about the design of US nuclear-powered warships. For people who they think are representatives of foreign powers but are actually undercover agents of the FBI, “according to a statement from the Department of Justice.

In two court documents filed on Monday, the Justice Department stated that the Tobs should stay in jail before the trial because the couple are at risk of running away or destroying evidence. The simple court documents did not explain in detail why the prosecutor believed the couple was at risk of escape, but they pointed out that these charges could lead to life imprisonment. The couple has not yet filed a plea, and their first hearing is scheduled for Tuesday in West Virginia Federal Court.

The U.S. Department of Justice stated that Jonathan Toby can obtain information about the Navy’s nuclear propulsion and sensitive military design elements, including “the operating parameters and performance characteristics of nuclear-powered battleship reactors.”

The FBI agent stated in the criminal proceedings defending the arrest that Torbay sent a package to a foreign government for the first time in April 2020, asking for the sale of nuclear secrets. A few months later, the FBI agent used an encrypted email program to do so. Respond and communicate with him. The complaint stated that the agent worked hard to win Toby’s trust before Toby agreed to sell information for thousands of dollars in cryptocurrency.

According to the complaint, the FBI “conducted an operation in Washington, D.C. that involved placing signals in locations related to (foreign governments) in an attempt to gain sincerity towards’Alice’,” Toby used the name as writing email The alias of the time.

During what Toby believed was a “dead spot” or a hiding place used by spies to secretly transmit information, the FBI stated that it arrested on Saturday after Jonathan “placed another SD card with confidential information.” Jonathan and Diana A pre-arranged location in West Virginia. The couple were accused of violating the Atomic Energy Act, which prohibits anyone with access to confidential information from sharing that information. The complaint alleges that Toebbes tried to “transmit, transmit and disclose the same information to another person with the intention of harming the United States and benefiting foreign countries”.

It is unclear whether the couple have hired legal counsel.

establish trust

During the lengthy communication process, in a trust-building initiative, the FBI arranged to send a signal to Toby from a building where an unnamed national diplomat was located.

After gaining Toby’s trust, the agent tried to persuade Toby to meet in person, but Toby was worried about being caught. The agent suggested using a dead point at the location he chose. Allegedly, Toby wrote in March 2021, “I am worried that using the dead spots prepared by your friend will make me very vulnerable. If other interested persons are observing the positions, I will not be able to detect them.”

According to the criminal proceedings of the FBI, Toby also stated that he was worried about receiving cash payments because the serial number could be tracked, and he was worried that “tracking equipment and other annoying surprises must also be considered.”

Toby allegedly wrote in April 2021: “Can you make some physical signals to prove your identity to me? I can plan to visit Washington, D.C. on Memorial Day weekend. I am just another tourist in the crowd. .Maybe you can “hang a signal flag on your roof?” Something that is easy to observe from the street, but something that does not arouse the suspicion of the opponent (sic)? “

The undercover agent replied: “We will set up a signal from our main building, which can be seen from the street. It will bring you comfort and display the signal from the area under our control instead of a signal. [sic] opponent. If you agree, please acknowledge. “

Allegedly, Toby recommended the use of the decentralized cryptocurrency Monero because it “gave us good denial.” In an email cited in the complaint, Toebbe allegedly stated that he would provide an SD card containing hundreds of pages of technical data. Allegedly, Toby wrote after confirming receipt of the encrypted currency: “I will give you the password.”

Toebbe also allegedly told the broker that he would never use the “same placement location twice. I will give you a new Monero address each time. The decryption key will be different each time. There is no pattern that a third party can observe. The only electronic footprint will be “proton to proton, so there is less risk of encrypted traffic being collected for future analysis by a third party. That part is not perfect. Maybe as our friendship develops, we will change the address regularly? “

In June 2021, Toby and his wife went to West Virginia. The FBI stated that Toby “placed an SD card hidden in half a peanut butter sandwich at a pre-arranged’dead spot’ location.”

According to the complaint, after retrieving the SD card, the undercover agent sent Toebbe a $20,000 cryptocurrency payment, and Toebbe replied with the card’s description key. The FBI stated that it “opened the provided SD card and provided the content” to a US Navy subject matter expert who confirmed that it possessed classified information.

Ongoing communication

The FBI stated that Toby allegedly continued to maintain relations with undercover agents and crashed again in eastern Virginia in August 2021. When he left his home in Annapolis, Maryland and drove to the crash, the FBI He was monitored.

The complaint stated, “The FBI observed that Jonathan Torbay’s service in Eastern Virginia was in a mess. The FBI observed that Jonathan Torbay put an item in a container and deleted the FBI’s service in the container. Written information.”

“The FBI then opened the SD card and provided the content to the US Navy subject matter experts. The US Navy subject matter experts determined that multiple files on the SD card contained restricted data. Specifically, the US Navy subject matter experts determined that the file contained Virginia level Schematic design of the submarine. The Virginia-class submarine is a nuclear-powered cruise missile fast-attack submarine, which contains the latest stealth, intelligence collection and weapon system technologies,” the criminal lawsuit stated.

In another communication listed in the complaint, Toby explained how he obtained all the confidential information. He said: “I collect the documents I have very carefully, slowly and naturally in my daily work, so no one will Doubt about my plan. We were trained on warning signs for the discovery of insider threats. We are very sure not to show one. I don’t believe that any of my former colleagues will doubt me if there is a future investigation.”

He also said: “I have considered that I may need to leave in a short time. If necessary, I will always thank you for helping me and my family to evacuate. I guess the first step will be to visit a safe third place plan. The country where your colleague meets. We have reserved passports and cash for this.” He said he hopes such a move will never prove necessary.

Toby said that he hoped to meet and drink with his foreign agent one day, and unknowingly wrote to the FBI agent, “Thank you for your cooperation and my friend. One day, when it is safe, maybe two Old friends will have a chance to meet by chance in a cafe, share a bottle of wine, and laugh at their common story. A good idea, but I agree that our common need for safety may make this impossible. No matter what. Do we meet[sic], I will always remember your bravery in serving the country and your promise to help me. “

This story was updated with other developments on Monday.

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