Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Would-Be Spy Admits to Attempted Espionage

A one-time respected NASA and Pentagon scientist admitted today in a plea-bargaining arrangement with federal prosecutors that he sought millions of dollars to sell Israel classified secrets.

On three occasions, Stewart Nozette provided a contact person posing as an Israeli official with top-secret and secret materials on U.S. satellites, early-warning systems and other classified defense information, according to government documents.

"Stewart Nozette was once a trusted scientist who maintained high-level government security clearances and was frequently granted access to classified information relating to our national defense," U.S. Attorney Ronald Machen Jr. said in a statement. "He will now have the next 13 years behind bars to contemplate his betrayal."

Nozette, 54, of Chevy Chase, Md., had access to mountains of secret information at his military and civilian jobs at the Department of Energy, Department of Defense, NASA and the White House National Space Council.

Israel had no connection to Nozette or the case, the U.S. government said. 

Nozette pleaded guilty today to a single count of attempted espionage. He has been behind bars since his arrest in October 2009.

An FBI sting operation in a separate fraud case involving Nozette in 2007 revealed that he had classified materials at his home and fit the profile of someone who would likely be willing to sell those secrets.

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