Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Scientist caught in spy sting

October 21, 2009 - 12:00AM

US AUTHORITIES have arrested a leading American scientist who had worked for the White House and NASA and charged him with attempting to sell top-secret information to Israel for $US11,000 ($A11,950).

Stewart Nozette, 52, was apprehended after a sting operation involving an undercover FBI agent, the Department of Justice said, adding that there was no wrongdoing by Israel.

Nozette, who was arrested in a Washington suburb and taken into custody, faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.

He developed an experiment that fuelled the discovery of water on the south pole of the moon, and previously held special security clearance at the Department of Energy on atomic materials.

In addition to stints at the US space agency NASA and the Department of Energy, Nozette worked at the White House on the National Space Council under then-president George Bush snr in 1989 and 1990.

In early September, Nozette received a phone call from a person ''purporting to be an Israeli intelligence officer, but who was in fact an undercover employee of the FBI'', the Justice Department said.

''Nozette met with the UCE [undercover employee] that day and discussed his willingness to work for Israeli intelligence,'' informing the agent that ''he had, in the past, held top security clearances and had access to US satellite information''.

First, Nozette answered questions for a $US2000 cash payment, including one answer that ''contained information classified as secret'', the Justice Department said.

Later in September, the suspect picked up a payment of $US9000 in cash and more questions, answers to which he returned to a drop-spot in a manila envelope this month.


This story was found at: http://www.theage.com.au/world/scientist-caught-in-spy-sting-20091020-h6wg.html

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