WASHINGTON — A leading US scientist who had worked at the White House and NASA could face execution for offering to sell secrets to Israel for two million dollars, according to documents filed in federal court.
Stewart Nozette, 52, is set to appear in court Thursday for a hearing on whether he should remain in detention after he was arrested in a sting operation involving an FBI agent posing as an Israeli official.
Nozette, arrested Monday, is charged with two counts of attempted espionage for allegedly trying to sell secrets to Israel, according to court documents filed late Wednesday.
Based on the indictment allegations, “the maximum penalty the defendant faces, if convicted, is death,” said the government filing supporting Nozette’s continued detention pending trial.
In Nozette’s talks with the alleged Israeli agent, the scientist said he wanted “roughly two million dollars as compensation for his espionage.”
Nozette “delivered and communicated this classified information to an individual he believed was an Israeli intelligence officer in exchange for an alias, a foreign passport, and cash payments,” and therefore should remain in detention, the court documents said.
In their final discussion, the undercover FBI agent handed Nozette 10,000 dollars in one hundred dollar bills, which he tried to hide inside a hotel bathroom toilet tank when federal agents arrested him.
The defendant “attempted to transfer some of our nation’s most guarded and sensitive secrets, to which he had been granted access when he served in positions of trust for the United States.”
There is “extremely strong evidence” that Nozette would flee the country if he were released pending trial, the document said.
A prominent scientist credited with helping discover water on the moon, Nozette had worked at the US space agency NASA, the Energy Department, and even served on the White House’s National Space Council in 1989 and 1990, under then-president George H.W. Bush.
The investigation appears to have been sparked by his work with an Israeli company, and comments he made to a colleague.
Here are 3 winners and 3 losers from the 2020 Democratic presidential primary debate
Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg joined the other leading Democratic presidential primary candidates Wednesday night in the fieriest evening of the race so far.
His presence on the stage drew fire from the other candidates, but it also seemed to change the overall tone of the debate, with more attacks, counter-attacks, and passion than was generally seen earlier in the campaign.
Here’s a (necessarily subjective!) list of the winners and losers from the fray:
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) — Warren hit her stride right as the debate started by attacking Bloomberg for his record on the mistreatment of women, racist policies, and his tax returns. She repeatedly came back to skewer the former mayor, making herself the biggest and most notable presence in the debate. But importantly, she also continuously brought the discussion back to the issues she cares about — like expanding health care, environmental justice, and consumer protection — while getting in digs at the other candidates on the stage.
Michael Bloomberg ‘lost everything’ in Las Vegas: MSNBC analyst
Senior editor for "The Root," Jason Johnson, concluded that the biggest loser of the Democratic debate in Las Vegas Wednesday was Michael Bloomberg, but not merely because of his debate performance.
"The big new name was going to be Michael Bloomberg," he said. "This was probably the most expensive night in Vegas I've ever seen. He lost everything. This guy has spent $320 million. He had the opportunity to stand on stage, and appear to be an equal, and he looked bored. He looked disenchanted. He stumbled over obvious questions that anybody would have anticipated about sexual harassment and stop and frisk. I thought it was a bad night for him."
Pro-immigration protesters interrupt Joe Biden’s closing statement at debate
Former Vice President Joe Biden's closing statement was interrupted by protesters at Thursday night's Democratic presidential debate.
As Biden began his remarks, demonstrators began shouting about the Obama administration's record on deportations.
— NBC News (@NBCNews) February 20, 2020