Former Navy nuclear engineer charged with espionage to appear in court
Baltimore Sun February 12, 2022
(Tribune News Service) — A former U.S. Naval nuclear engineer accused of trying to sell secrets to a foreign government is due to appear in court Monday for a plea hearing.
A West Virginia magistrate judge in a Friday order said that Jonathan Toebbe of Annapolis will enter a plea at 3 p.m. Monday.
Toebbe and his wife, Diana Toebbe, face espionage charges for selling secrets about nuclear submarines to an undisclosed foreign power. They were arrested in October in Jefferson County, West Virginia after selling confidential information “concerning the design of nuclear-powered warships” over the course of a year to an undercover FBI agent who posed as a representative of a military intelligence agency, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
Federal authorities allege that in the spring of 2020, Jonathan Toebbe, 42, began communicating with undercover agents, offering to sell nuclear secrets.
Jonathan Toebbe communicated with agents through encrypted channels, received covert signals and left memory cards containing sensitive information hidden in a peanut butter sandwich and a pack of chewing gum during “dead-drop” exchanges at specified locations in exchange for thousands of dollars in cryptocurrency.
His wife was seen assisting with the drops, sometimes apparently acting as a lookout, according to the complaint.
Diana Toebbe, a former humanities teacher at the Key School in Annapolis, and her husband, who worked on classified nuclear projects for the Navy, are being detained and earlier pleaded not guilty to charges of espionage.
A magistrate denied Diana Toebbe’s request to reconsider her bail denial. Her attorneys have appealed, asking the court to hold a second detention hearing and consider new evidence — that Jonathan Toebbe has insisted, while in pretrial detention, that his wife is innocent, and that Diana Toebbe’s DNA was not found on “several crucial items of evidence” produced by prosecutors.
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