Annapolis Couple Charged with Selling Submarine Secrets Appear in Court, Detention Hearings Scheduled for Friday

October 12, 2021 11:43 AM - Updated: October 12, 2021 3:54 PM
Submarine construction continues apace in the latest US Navy budget request, which asks for two more Virginia-class submarines and another installment for the missile sub Columbia. Here, the Virginia-class attack submarine USS Montana (SSN-794) is seen just after launch in March 2021 at Huntington Ingalls Newport News Shipbuilding. HII Photo

This post has been updated to include comments from Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby.

The initial hearings for an Annapolis, Md., couple charged with violating the Atomic Energy Act each lasted four minutes, with the couple released into the custody of U.S. Marshals until a detention hearing later this week.

At the hearing Tuesday morning in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia, magistrate judge Robert W. Trumble read Jonathan Toebbe the charges against him and his constitutional rights, which included providing Toebbe a court-appointed attorney.

The government is requesting that Toebbe be detained, and a hearing to determine his detention will take place Friday at 10:30 a.m. A hearing to determine if there is probable cause for the charges against Toebbe will take place on Oct. 20 at 1 p.m.

Toebbe’s wife, Diana, then appeared for her hearing, which also lasted four minutes. She, too, will have a detention hearing on Friday and a hearing on probable cause on Oct. 20.

Both Jonathan and Diana Toebbe were released into the custody of the U.S. Marshals.

Toebbe and his wife were charged with conspiracy to communicate restricted data and communication of restricted data in violation of federal law.

The FBI alleges that Toebbe attempted to send classified documents, including information on the Virginia-class submarine, to an unidentified country, according to charging documents.

Over the course of several months, Toebbe passed information to FBI agents, who were posing as representatives of the unspecified country, in exchange for money, which was provided via the cryptocurrency Monero. Toebbe used memory cards hidden in objects like half of a peanut butter sandwich, a gum package and a BandAid wrapper.

During a press conference Tuesday, Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby declined to answer a question about why Pentagon and Navy security failed to catch Toebbe, saying the case is still an active investigation.

“Because it’s an active ongoing case, it would be inappropriate and completely unhelpful for us to talk about it here at the podium,” Kirby said.

Heather Mongilio

Heather Mongilio

Heather Mongilio is a reporter with USNI News. She has a master’s degree in science journalism and has covered local courts, crime, health, military affairs and the Naval Academy.
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