American Moon scientist Stewart Nozette 'tried to spy for Israel'

Dr. Stewart Nozette during a press briefing at the Pentagon in Washington, DC
(AFP/Getty)
Dr Stewart Nozette at a Pentagon press briefing on lunar exploration
An American scientist who worked on the cutting edge of lunar exploration was due to appear in a Washington courtroom today charged with attempting to sell classified secrets to Israel.
Stewart Nozette, 52, a former White House expert who helped discover evidence of water on the Moon, was arrested at his home in Maryland yesterday after a sting operation involving an undercover FBI officer posing as an Israeli agent.
The Justice Department said that Mr Nozette was charged with attempting to communicate, deliver and transmit classified information. Officials said there was no wrongdoing on the part of Israel.
Mr Nozette has worked in various jobs for Nasa and the Energy Department. In 1989 and 1990, he worked for the White House's National Space Council under President Bush. He developed the Clementine bi-static radar experiment that is credited with discovering water on the south pole of the Moon.
He also worked at the Energy Department’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory from approximately 1990 to 1999.
The Justice Department said that from 1989 to 2006 Mr Nozette had held security clearances as high as top secret and had frequent access to classified information relating to US national defence, including nuclear weapon technology.
From 1998 to 2008, the complaint alleges, Mr Nozette was a technical adviser for a consultant company that was wholly owned by the Israeli government and was paid about $225,000 over that period.
Prosecutors also quote an unnamed colleague who said that the scientist remarked that if the US government ever tried to put him in jail for an unrelated criminal offense, he would go to Israel or another foreign country and “tell them everything" he knows.
Then, in January of this year, Mr Nozette allegedly travelled to another foreign country with two computer memory sticks and apparently did not return with them.
To build a case against him, FBI agents posed as officers of the Israeli intelligence service Mossad. The Justice Department said that Mr Nozette "met with the UCE (undercover employee)... and discussed his willingness to work for Israeli intelligence”. He told the agent that “he had, in the past, held top security clearances and had access to US satellite information".
Over the next several weeks, Mr Nozette and the undercover agent exchanged envelopes of money containing thousands of dollars at a time for answers to lists of questions about US satellite technology.
“The answers contained information classified as both Top Secret and Secret that concerned US satellites, early warning systems, means of defence or retaliation against large-scale attack, communications intelligence information and major elements of defence strategy,” the Department said.
 
 
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