Saturday, September 23, 2023
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Virginia Man Gets |11 Years for Espionage

(CN) - A 36-year-old Navy engineer was sentenced to 11 years in prison on Thursday for attempting to sell designs for the nation's next generation of aircraft carriers to the Egyptian government.

Mostafa Ahmed Awwad, a former civilian engineer at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard, was accused of stealing thousands of drawings for the $13 billion Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier, and attempting to sell them to an undercover FBI agent he thought was an Egyptian spy.

Awwad was arrested in December 2014, and pleaded guilty to attempted espionage in June.

In sentencing the husband and father of two to prison, U.S. District Judge Raymond Jackson said Awwad had pleaded guilty to "one of the worst [crimes] you could commit."

"You went out and you attempted to sell and convey secrets that are an instrumental part of national defense," Jackson said, adding later, "This wasn't an aberrational act. You took serious steps, and but for being arrested, you probably would have continued with your conduct."

In laying out their case, prosecutors said the material Awwad attempted to sell reveal confidential details about vulnerable shipboard areas, including nuclear reactors, weapons storage spaces and the vessel's technological infrastructure.

They also said Awwad boasted of his ability to install bugs on the nuclear submarines that are brought into the Norfolk Naval Shipyard for routine maintenance.

But Awwad's attorney, James Broccoletti, said his client boasted of access to technology that he didn't have, and that the designs his client took "were not secret and were not classified."

Awwad, who became a U.S. citizen in June 2012, in the very same courthouse that he was sentenced in, apologized for his actions, saying that every time he opens his eyes, "the nightmare is still there."

"I take full responsibility for my actions," he said, apologizing to the United States, the Navy, the state of Virginia and his "tormented family."

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