US Navy engineer accused of passing submarine secrets hidden in peanut butter sandwiches arrested on espionage

In June FBI agents say they watched as Mr Toebbe left an SD card wrapped in plastic and hidden inside a peanut butter sandwich

A US Navy engineer has been arrested on espionage charges after allegedly trying to pass restricted information about nuclear submarines inside peanut butter sandwiches.

Jonathan Toebee, 42, was arrested along with his wife Diana Toebbe who allegedly attempted to sell military secrets to someone they believed was a foreign agent.

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SD card hidden inside peanut butter sandwich

The FBI began monitoring Mr Toebbe via an undercover agent emailing him in February. Over a period of months he is accused of providing investigators with documents containing restricted details about Virginia-class submarines.

In June FBI agents say they watched as Mr Toebbe left an SD card wrapped in plastic and hidden inside a peanut butter sandwich at an agreed location in West Virginia, according to the criminal complaint.

During another drop, Mr Toebbe used a Band-aid wrapper to disclose another SD card.

Prosecutors say that Ms Toebbe allegedly helped carry out surveillance during the drops to see if the couple was being followed.

By 28 August the FBI had paid Mr Toebbe $100,000 (£73,000) in the Monero cryptocurrency, court papers state.

They add that on the 29 August Mr Toebbe emailed the person he believed to be a foreign agent to thank them.

“One day, when it is safe, perhaps two old friends will have a chance to stumble into each other at a cafe, share a bottle of wine and laugh over stories of their shared exploits,” he wrote, according to prosecutors.

“I will always remember your bravery in serving your country and your commitment to helping me.”

Mr Toebbe was arrested in West Virginia on suspicion of conspiracy to communicate restricted data and other crimes, say federal prosecutors. Ms Toebbe, 45, was arrested on allegations that she assisted him.

Mr and Mr Toebbe are due to appear in federal court in Martinsburg, West Virginia, on Tuesday (12 October).

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