National Security

Maryland couple pleads not guilty in submarine secrets case

A Navy engineer and his wife accused of seeking to sell classified data on nuclear-powered warships to foreign governments on Wednesday pleaded not guilty to violating the Atomic Energy Act.

Jonathan Toebbe and his wife Diana Toebbe were arrested on Oct. 9 after prosecutors allege he dropped SD cards in specific locations in West Virginia where he believed foreign government agents would retrieve them. Beginning in December, Toebbe began corresponding with who he believed to be a foreign government representative, but was in fact an FBI agent, according to the Justice Department.

NBC News reported both Toebbes have pleaded not guilty to the charges against them. Jonathan Toebbe waived his right to a detention hearing, with his attorney Nicholas Compton saying, “He understands he’ll remain incarcerated.”

U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Robert Trumble ordered that Toebbe remain in jail until the trial for him and his wife begins on Dec. 14.

However, NBC noted that Edward MacMahon, the attorney representing Diana Toebbe, argued against incarceration for his client, saying that it was only “speculation” that she was aware of her husband’s alleged intent to sell classified government information to a foreign government.

Jonathan Toebbe, who authorities say used the alias “ALICE,” allegedly demanded $100,000 in exchange for a link that would allow his contact to download classified information. In June, the FBI paid him $10,000 as a show of good faith, after which he dropped off an SD card in a predetermined location, prosecutors say.

In one instance, he allegedly hid an SD card in a gum wrapper, while in another he apparently hid the card in a plastic bag placed inside a peanut butter sandwich. According to prosecutors, Diana Toebbe acted as a lookout in three of the four drop-offs.

If convicted, the Toebbes could face life in prison.

Tags Espionage Navy

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