Navy engineer accused of passing submarine secrets in peanut butter sandwiches

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A US Navy engineer has been arrested on espionage charges for trying to provide restricted information about nuclear submarines hidden inside a peanut butter sandwich.

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Jonathan Tobey, 42, was arrested along with his wife, Diana Toebe, after allegedly trying to sell military secrets to someone posing as a foreign agent.

Federal prosecutors say Tobey was arrested in West Virginia on suspicion of conspiracy to transmit restricted data and other crimes.


Mrs Tobe, 45, a Maryland teacher, was arrested for helping her.

Officials say Mr Tobe sent a package containing military documents and other files to a country’s military intelligence agency he was trying to build ties with.

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The country is not named in the court papers and the package ended with an FBI briefcase.

An undercover FBI agent began emailing Mr Toebe in February and over a period of months he was accused of providing investigators with documents containing restricted details about Virginia-class submarines.

According to the criminal complaint, in June FBI agents say they saw Mr Tobey hide an SD card wrapped in plastic inside a peanut butter sandwich at an agreed-upon location in West Virginia.

During a separate drop, the suspect used a Band-Aid wrapper to hide another SD card.

Prosecutors say Mrs Tobe allegedly helped conduct surveillance during the drops, to see if the couple was being chased.

Court papers state that as of August 28, the FBI paid Mr Tobey $100,000 in Monero cryptocurrency.

They say that the next day he also emailed the man he believed to be a foreign agent to thank him.

“One day, when it’s safe, maybe two old friends will have a chance to bump into each other in a cafe, share a bottle of wine, and laugh at the stories of their shared adventures,” he wrote, according to prosecutors.

“I will always remember your bravery in serving your country and your commitment to helping me.”

The couple is due to appear in federal court in Martinsburg, West Virginia on Tuesday.


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