Report: Black Lives Matter-loving, Trump-hating couple tried to sell nuclear submarine secrets to Brazil
ANNAPOLIS, MD- A Black Lives Matter-supporting, Donald Trump-hating couple were arrested last October and charged with trying to sell US submarine secrets, although at the time, it wasn’t revealed to whom the couple was trying to sell the classified information except for the fact it was a “friendly” nation to the US.
While it was initially believed to be France, it has now been revealed that it was instead Brazil.
Jonathan and Diana Toebbe were arrested last year after prosecutors alleged Jonathan had approached a foreign government in an attempt to sell secrets about nuclear-powered subs, the Daily Mail reports.
Jonathan Toebbe attempted to provide thousands of pages of stolen classified documents about the nuclear reactors which power the U.S. submarine fleet. When the couple was indicted, prosecutors initially refused to identify which foreign government they had contacted, the noted it was a “friendly” foreign power as opposed to a U.S. adversary.
The Mail said that a senior Brazilian official and others familiar with the investigation confirmed that Toebbe approached their government in April 2020, the New York Times reported.
Military analysts say that Toebbe’s outreach to the South American nation was an “odd choice,” since then-President Trump and Brazilian President Bolsonaro had strengthened ties between the two countries. In fact, some say relations between the United States and Brazil were the closest they had been in decades.
Also, while Brazil was looking to develop and improve its military technology, Brazilian officials were not of a mind to steal secrets from their ally. The Toebbe’s plot began to fall apart after Brazilian officials contacted the FBI, who then posed as Brazilian government officials and formulated a sting.
The confirmation about Brazil being the target of the scheme was revealed one month after Jonathan Toebbe pleaded guilty in federal court in Martinsburg, West Virginia, to a single count of conspiracy to communicate restricted data. His wife Diana, 45, denies the charges levied against them.
Jonathan Toebbe faces 17 years in jail, while his Trump-hating wife faces up to three years.
Officials who are familiar with the investigation say the couple selected Brazil because they were under the impression that country was looking to acquire nuclear technology while being wealthy enough to buy their secrets, while not being hostile towards the United States.
According to text messages presented in court, the couple believed forwarding the information to U.S. adversaries such as Russia or China was immoral.
“It’s not morally defensible either,” Toebbe wrote, according to a transcript of the court proceedings. “We convinced ourselves it was fine, but it really isn’t either, is it?”
Diana responded: “I have no problems at all with it. I feel no loyalty to abstractions.”
Brazil began developing its own nuclear fleet of subs in 1978, and has been interested in the technology over the past several years.
In 2008, Brazil reinvested in its efforts to develop a nuclear submarine in order “to better protect and patrol its economic zone in the Atlantic Ocean, the Mail reported. That zone provides Brazil with fossil fuels and other vital resources.
Only last month, Bolsonaro raised the issue of nuclear reactor technology during a trip to Moscow, only a week before Putin decided to invade Ukraine.
Sources say the Brazilian leader has attempted to maintain a positive relationship with the Russian madman despite the ongoing war.
They note that Bolsonaro hopes to maintain a somewhat cordial relationship with Moscow in the event a partnership comes about where the two countries are able to share nuclear reactor technology.
A senior official in the Biden administration told the Mail that Bolsonaro’s trip to Moscow was a bad move and sparked criticism from a number of U.S. officials. They also noted that seeking acquisition of Russian military technology “is a bad bet for any country.”
According to the FBI, the plot started in April 2020 when Toebbe sent a package of Navy documents to a Brazilian military agency, and advised them he was willing to sell operations manuals, performance reports and other sensitive information, the Mail wrote.
Once that Brazilian agency received the information, they passed it on to the FBI, which in turn had one of its agents pose as a Brazilian official in an elaborate sting which ultimately led to the couple’s arrests.
Once notified of the Toebbes’ scheme, it set off a month-long undercover operation during which the agent contacted Toebbe and agreed to pay $100,000 in cryptocurrency for the information Toebbe was offering. Toebbe had already been paid $70,000 before he was caught.
Toebbe became suspicious of the undercover agent at some point, according to the New York Times, and questioned their identity.
“I am concerned that using a dead drop location your friend prepares makes me very vulnerable,” Toebbe wrote to the agent, court records said. “For now, I must consider the possibility that you are not the person I hope you are.”
Attempting to save the operation, the FBI agent told Toebbe to look for a sign placed in a window inside a Brazilian government building in Washington, D.C. during Memorial Day weekend. Once he saw the sign, Toebbe agreed to drop off a sample of the stolen documents to the official, hidden inside a peanut butter sandwich.
Diana’s role was to serve as an accomplice and a “lookout” at several prearranged ‘drop dead” locations at which her husband deposited memory cards containing government secrets. She has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
A search of the couple’s Annapolis, Maryland home by the FBI found a trash bag full of shredded documents, thousands of dollars in cash, valid children’s passports and a “go bag” which contained a USB drive and latex gloves.
According to Diana’s attorneys, she was only looking to exit the country because of her hatred for former President Donald Trump, not because she was worried about getting caught for selling classified information.
Her attorneys made the claim in court papers last month, and included a series of text messages between the couple in March 2019. In those texts, Diana complained about wanting to get out because of Trump, whom she clearly had disdain for, initially wanting to flee to France.
In an attempt to calm his apparently unhinged wife, Toebbe said:
“Biden/Warren will curb stomp Trump/Pence.”
That did little to calm his wife, who said:
“WE NEED TO GET OUT. Hilary (sic) was going to curb stomp trump. I’m done.”
Jonathan Toebbe tried to reassure Diana about the Mueller report, with her then complaining that it had been “too long” and the “system is rigged.”
Jonathan Then suggested leaving the country, saying:
“We’ve got passports, and some savings. In a real pinch, we can flee quickly.”
To which Diana answered:
“Right. Let’s go sooner than later.”
For our original report on this, we invite you to:
JEFFERSON COUNTY, WV – According to a press release from the Department of Justice, a Navy nuclear engineer and his wife, both based out of Annapolis, Maryland, were arrested in West Virginia earlier in October for allegedly selling “Restricted Data” concerning the designs of nuclear-powered war ships.
Apparently, the couple was under the impression that they were selling this information to a “foreign power”, but in reality, they’d been allegedly selling the secrets to an undercover FBI agent.
Navy engineer, wife accused of trying to sell nuclear submarine secrets https://t.co/DSNjiZotXk pic.twitter.com/kwI8GlwuJT
— New York Post (@nypost) October 10, 2021
On October 9th, 42-year-old Jonathan Toebbe and 45-year-old Diana Toebbe were arrested in Jefferson County by the FBI and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS).
Officials allege that Jonathan, who is employed with the Department of the Navy and served as a nuclear engineer, and his wife had been selling “Restricted Data concerning the design of nuclear-powered warships” for nearly a year to whom they believed was a representative of a foreign country.
According to the Department of Justice’s press release, Jonathan was assigned to the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program, having held a national security clearance through the Department of Defense which afforded him access to Restricted Data.
On April 1st of 2020, authorities claim that Jonathan sent a package over to a foreign government containing a sample of Restricted Data, along with instructions on how to maintain a clandestine relationship where Restricted Data could be purchased.
Among the instructions in the package, as outlined in the criminal complaint, was the following:
“Please forward this letter to your military intelligence agency. I believe this information will be of great value to your nation. This is not a hoax.”
The affidavit alleges that after the sending of the package, Jonathan began to correspond via encrypted email with whom he believed was a representative of a foreign country – when he was reportedly corresponding with an undercover FBI agent.
Jonathan and the undercover agent traded emails back and forth for months, according to authorities, where a deal was eventually secured to sell Restricted Data in exchange for cryptocurrency.
The undercover agent reportedly sent Jonathan $10,000 in cryptocurrency on June 8th of 2021 as a “good faith” payment, and Jonathan and his wife later made a trip to West Virginia on June 26th to allegedly drop off the Restricted Data.
Great work by the @TheJusticeDept, @FBI, and @RealNCIS! This sort of espionage can cripple our #nationaldefense which is why this investigation’s success – and those like it – is so vital to keeping us safe. https://t.co/qbonTDOkXO
— Jay Town (@JayTownAlabama) October 10, 2021
During the June 26th drop off, authorities allege that Jonathan’s wife served as a lookout while he “placed an SD card concealed within half a peanut butter sandwich at a pre-arranged ‘dead drop’ location.”
After the undercover agent retrieved the SD card, the agent sent an additional $20,000 in cryptocurrency to Jonathan in order to receive the decryption key to the SD card dropped off in West Virginia. Authorities allege that the SD card contained “Restricted Data related to submarine nuclear reactors.”
Another “dead drop” occurred on August 28th, according to officials, with Jonathan this time concealing an SD card in a pack of chewing gum in exchange for $70,000 in cryptocurrency. As with the first SD card, the August drop also allegedly contained “Restricted Data related to submarine nuclear reactors.”
A U.S. Navy engineer and his wife were charged by the FBI for leaking classified information to a foreign power.https://t.co/0KzWwhaFHy
— Rebel News (@RebelNewsOnline) October 11, 2021
A third drop was arranged on October 9th in West Virginia, with authorities taking the husband and wife into custody once the SD card was placed at the pre-arranged “dead drop” location. Jonathan and Diana Toebbe have since been charged with violations of the Atomic Energy Act.
The two are slated to have their first court appearance on October 12th in federal court in Martinsburg, West Virginia.
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