Top scientist ‘is Israel spy’
AN APPARENTLY JEWISH scientist was charged this week with attempting to sell classified secrets to Israel.
Stewart Nozette, 52, of Maryland, was caught in a sting operation by an FBI agent posing as an Israeli spy. He twice passed classified information to the agent over several weeks.
Mr Nozette appeared in court on Tuesday, accused of two counts of attempting to communicate, deliver and transmit classified information. If convicted he faces life in jail.
Assistant US attorney Anthony Asuncion told the court that Mr Nozette had access to some of America’s “most guarded secrets”.
Until 2006, Mr Nozette had held a common but coveted top secret clearance with the US government. During the 1990s, he worked at the US Energy Department on non-military applications of the Star Wars missile shield programme. He had access to nuclear and atomic-related projects as well as information on satellites. He had even spoken at Pentagon briefings.
He also worked at Nasa, where he is credited with helping to discover water on the south pole of the moon. However, a few years ago, Nasa became suspicious of his expense claims.
According to a law enforcement official quoted in the NYT, during that inquiry “investigators found indications he might be working for a foreign government”.
Mr Nozette received about $225,000 between 1998 and 2008 from an aerospace firm owned by the Israeli government for whom he was a consultant.
Israeli media have identified the firm as Israel Aircraft Industries, the largest company in Israel, which, with Boeing, makes the Arrow-2 anti-ballistic missile interceptor Israel relies upon to defend against nuclear attack.
Nasa’s suspicions sparked the FBI operation. The FBI agent met Mr Nozette at a Washington hotel and Mr Nozette agreed to pass on information in return for money and an Israeli passport. Mr Nozette made two drops of information, including classified details of a US overhead surveillance system.
The Israeli consulate in New York denied Israel had any involvement with Mr Nozette.