The US Navy engineer reportedly ruled out Russia and China as too adversarial to the US to work with.
A US Navy engineer who admitted to attempting to sell classified nuclear submarine secrets to a foreign power reportedly tried to sell the secrets to Brazil. 43-year-old Jonathan Toebbe and his wife Diana Toebbe both pleaded guilty last month after being caught in an FBI sting trying to sell “Restricted Data related to the design of nuclear-powered warships.” Until this week, however, the foreign power they tried to work with remained secret.
On Tuesday, the New York Times revealed that Toebbe “approached Brazil nearly two years ago with an offer of thousands of pages of classified documents about nuclear reactors.” After Toebbe made the offer to Brazil’s military intelligence agency, it forwarded the information to the FBI, which then organized a sting to catch the US Navy engineer red-handed.
An undercover FBI agent posed as a Brazilian representative and convinced Toebbe and his wife to leave the sensitive documents in hidden locations. The couple was then arrested in October.
US Navy engineer admits selling submarine secretsREAD MORE: US Navy engineer admits selling submarine secrets
Toebbe reportedly chose Brazil because it was not an adversary to the US like other foreign powers, such as Russia and China, but was also wealthy enough to pay for the secrets.
Brazil was not named as the foreign power when news initially broke because the country did not want their cooperation with the US on the matter to be public knowledge, according to the report.
Jonathan Toebbe faces up to seven and a half years in prison, while Diana Toebbe faces up to three.