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Secrets, Cryptocurrency Still Missing in Submarine Spy Case

Jonathan and Diana Toebbe plead not guilty
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 21, 2021 7:22 AM CDT
FBI Hasn't Recovered Sub Secrets in Spy Case
These booking photos released Oct. 9, 2021, by the West Virginia Regional Jail and Correctional Facility Authority show Jonathan Toebbe and his wife, Diana Toebbe.   (West Virginia Regional Jail and Correctional Facility Authority via AP)

(Newser) – Two alleged spies arrested earlier this month are still in jail—and prosecutors say it would be too risky to release Jonathan and Diana Toebbe on bail while the nuclear submarine secrets they are accused of trying to sell to a foreign government are still unaccounted for. At a hearing Wednesday, an FBI agent testified that the vast majority of the documents Jonathan Toebb, a nuclear engineer from the Navy, stole from his workplace at Washington Navy Yard have not been recovered, NPR reports. Prosecutors arguing against granting bail to Diana Toebbe said authorities have also been unable to recover around $100,000 in cryptocurrency the couple was paid as part of the FBI sting operation.

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The Toebbes pleaded not guilty to espionage charges at separate hearings in a West Virginia federal court. Jonathan Toebbe waived his right to a detention hearing, but attorney Edward MacMahon argued that Diana Toebbe should be released on bail, arguing there was "no evidence" she knew what her husband was up to, USA Today reports. Prosecutors say Diana Toebbe, a teacher, took part in data drops and other parts of the scheme. FBI Special Agent Peter Olints testified the couple, believing they were communicating with a foreign government, said they might need help fleeing the country if the plan went wrong. He said evidence from their home in Annapolis, Md., suggesting an escape plan included a "go bag" for travel, $11,300 in cash, and passports for their two children, ages 11 and 15.

Olints read out what he said were excerpts from encrypted messages from the couple before they reached out to a foreign country with an offer to sell the classified information about Virginia-class submarine nuclear reactors for up to $5 million, the New York Times reports. He said Jonathan Toebbe wrote in 2019: "It's not morally defensible either. We convince ourselves it is fine, but really isn’t either.” He said Diana Toebbe replied: "I have no problem with any of it. I feel no loyalty to abstractions." Prosecutors said Wednesday that after the Toebbes reached out to an undisclosed foreign country with an offer to sell the information, that country contacted the FBI. The judge did not make an immediate ruling on Diana Toebbe's detention. (Read more espionage stories.)

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