US authorities arrested a leading American scientist who had worked for the White House and NASA and charged him with attempted spying for Israel.
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, AFP reports.
Nozette held security clearances as high as top secret and had access to information related to national defense, according to the Justice Department. He developed a radar experiment that purportedly discovered water on the south pole of the moon and designed “highly advanced” technology at the Energy Department, according to the statement.
"This case reflects our firm resolve to hold accountable any individual who betrays the public trust by compromising our national security for his or her own personal gain," said Channing D. Phillips, acting U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia.
Nozette was arrested yesterday by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The Justice Department statement said he is expected to appear today in U.S. District Court in Washington. The government’s complaint doesn’t allege that Israel or anyone acting on its behalf committed a crime, Bloomberg informs.
The Justice Department said: "From 1989 to 2006, Nozette held security clearances as high as top secret and had regular, frequent access to classified information and documents related to the US national defence."
According to the department, in early September Mr 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 sting was conducted after Mr Nozette took what the FBI perceived to be a suspicious trip abroad.
Mr Nozette "discussed his willingness to work for Israeli intelligence" and offered to "answer questions in exchange for money", Telegraph.co.uk reports.