(CN) – A Maryland scientist who worked for the Pentagon and NASA was arrested Monday on charges that he tried to sell national defense secrets to an undercover FBI agent he believed was an Israeli intelligence officer.
Stewart Nozette, 52, was charged with attempting to communicate, deliver and transmit classified information, the U.S. Department of Justice said.
Nozette was contacted Sept. 3, 2009 by an undercover FBI agent posing as an officer for an Israeli intelligence agency called “Mossad,” officials said. Nozette later agreed over the telephone to meet with the agent at a hotel in Washington, D.C., according to the Justice Department.
According to federal authorities, Nozette allegedly agreed to provide “Mossad” with classified information via a post office box in exchange for money.
Nozette allegedly told undercover FBI agents that he preferred cash payments, saying, “Well I should tell you my first need is that they should figure out how to pay me … they don’t expect me to do this for free,” the Justice Department said.
Nozette was then videotaped over the next few weeks leaving manila envelopes in the designated post office box, officials said. The envelopes “contained information classified as both Top Secret and Secret that concerned U.S. satellites, early warning systems, means of defense or retaliation against large-scale attack, communications intelligence information, and major elements of defense strategy,” the Justice Department said.
Nozette worked for the government performing research and development at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C., the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency in Arlington, Va., and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., according to federal officials.
He held top security clearances and had “frequent access to classified information and documents related to the U.S. national defense,” the Justice Department said.