US navy engineer accused of hiding classified files in a sandwich charged with selling submarine secrets

A US navy engineer who is alleged to have hidden a memory card loaded with classified files in a peanut butter sandwich before leaving it at a "dead drop" location, has been charged with selling secre

US navy engineer accused of hiding classified files in a sandwich charged with selling submarine secrets

A US navy engineer who is alleged to have hidden a memory card loaded with classified files in a peanut butter sandwich before leaving it at a "dead drop" location, has been charged with selling secrets about nuclear submarines.

Jonathan Toebbe is alleged to have sent a package of restricted data to an unidentified country last year, and later began selling secrets to an undercover FBI agent posing as a foreign official, the Justice Department said.

In exchange for the information, the FBI said he received separate cryptocurrency payments totalling $100,000 (£73,500).

At one point, the 42-year-old is alleged to have hidden a digital memory card containing documents about nuclear reactors in half a peanut butter sandwich at a "dead drop" location in West Virginia, with his wife Diana as a lookout, according to a criminal complaint.

A dead drop is an old-school espionage trick in which a source leaves an item of value at an agreed hiding spot for a recipient to retrieve without being spotted.

The card contained "militarily sensitive design elements, operating parameters and performance characteristics of Virginia-class submarine reactors", according to federal court documents.

Another memory card was concealed in a packet of chewing gum, the complaint says.

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Throughout, Toebbe had top-level secret security clearance.

He and his wife, who are from Annapolis, Maryland, were arrested in West Virginia on Saturday.

They were both charged with conspiracy and "communication of restricted data" in violation of the Atomic Energy Act, and are scheduled to appear at a West Virginia federal court on Tuesday.