Top US Scientist Busted for Spying
Space researcher accused of trying to sell secrets to Israel
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 20, 2009 5:35 AM CDT
Nozette, seen here in a photo on a NASA page, worked on 'Star Wars' defense projects and a NASA project that discovered water on the moon.   (NASA)

(Newser) – A leading American space scientist has been charged with attempted espionage after being busted in an FBI sting operation. Stewart Nozette, who worked on classified aerospace projects for agencies including NASA and the Department of Defense, was arrested when he attempted to pass secrets to an FBI agent posing as an Israeli spy, said Justice Department officials.

Nozette—who held the highest-level security clearances for years—is accused of supplying top-secret information to the FBI agent via a drop-box and offering nuclear secrets in return for cash and an Israeli passport, Bloomberg reports. "I don’t get recruited by Mossad every day. I knew this day would come,” Nozette told the agent, according to a criminal complaint filed yesterday. The complaint does not accuse Israel of any wrongdoing. If convicted of the charges, Nozette could face life in prison.