A Navy nuclear engineer with access to U.S. nuclear-powered submarines has been charged with trying to pass information about the design of those submarines to an undercover FBI agent posing as a representative of a foreign government, the Justice Department said Sunday. 

The Justice Department released a statement announcing the arrest of the Annapolis, MD-based nuclear engineer. “Jonathan and Diana Toebbe, both of Annapolis, Maryland, were arrested in Jefferson County, West Virginia, by the FBI and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) on Saturday, Oct. 9. They will have their initial appearances on Tuesday, Oct. 12, in federal court in Martinsburg, West Virginia,” the announcement read. 

“For almost a year, Jonathan Toebbe, 42, aided by his wife, Diana, 45, sold information known as Restricted Data concerning the design of nuclear-powered warships to a person they believed was a representative of a foreign power. In actuality, that person was an undercover FBI agent. The Toebbes have been charged in a criminal complaint alleging violations of the Atomic Energy Act.”

In a criminal complaint detailing the espionage-related charges against Jonathan Toebbe, the government said he knowingly sold information for the past year to a contact he believed represented a foreign power. That country was not named in the court documents.

Toebbe, 42, was arrested along with his wife, Diana, 45, after he had placed a removable SD memory card at a prearranged “dead drop” in the state, according to the Justice Department.

The advanced nuclear-powered attack submarine and the lead ship of its class, PCU Virginia (SSN 774) returns to the General Dynamics Electric Boat shipyard. (General Dynamics Electric Boat)

“The complaint charges a plot to transmit information relating to the design of our nuclear submarines to a foreign nation,” U.S. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland said in a released statement. 

“The work of the FBI, Department of Justice prosecutors, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, and the Department of Energy was critical in thwarting the plot charged in the complaint and taking this first step in bringing the perpetrators to justice.”