A nuclear engineer in the US navy and his wife have been charged with attempting to sell nuclear secrets to a foreign state.
According to the Justice Department, Jonathan Toebbe and his wife Diana were arrested in West Virginia on Saturday.
They allegedly sought to sell nuclear submarine design info to someone they thought represented another country by hiding it in a peanut butter sandwich.
It was, in reality, an FBI agent working undercover.
Mr. Toebbe and his companion, both 42 and 45 years old, have now been charged under the Atomic Energy Act, according to the statement.
Mr. Toebbe held national security clearance and worked in the US Navy’s nuclear propulsion program.
According to the Justice Department, he sent a package containing restricted data and a statement implying a hidden relationship to a foreign government in April 2020 so that they could buy more data from him.
He then allegedly began sending encrypted emails to a specific person. According to the affidavit, the person he assumed represented the foreign government was actually an FBI agent.
The accused couple allegedly formed a contract to give sensitive information in exchange for about $100,000 (£73,000) in bitcoin after several months of negotiations.
Jonathan and Diana Toebbe traveled to West Virginia in June of this year to provide the statistics.
Jonathan “positioned an SD card concealed within half a peanut butter sandwich” at a designated area with Diana acting as a lookout, according to the affidavit.
The agent provided payment and received a decryption key to access the SD card after collecting the card. On it included password-protected information “about underwater nuclear reactors.”
In August, Mr Toebbe carried out a second so-called dead drop, this time hidden within a chewing gum packet and containing even more sensitive data.
The duo was later apprehended by FBI officers conducting a third dead drop on Saturday.
The couple is scheduled to appear in federal court on October 12th.