An American space scientist has been arrested after he attempted to sell US secrets to an undercover FBI agent, posing as a Mossad representative.
Stewart David Nozette, 52, from Chevy Chase, Maryland, who is Jewish, has worked for the Pentagon and for NASA.
During his career, he developed an experiment which led to the discovery of water on the moon, and worked at the White House on the National Space Council.
Israel is not being implicated in the case and it is not clear why Mr Nozette, who had a high security clearing, initially aroused the suspicion of the FBI.
But he received a phone call from the undercover agent and agreed to meet him in September, where he allegedly offered information about US nuclear weapons, military spacecrafts, weapons systems and satellite in exchange for £2,000.
Bloomberg reported that Mr Nozette told the FBI agent: “I don’t get recruited by Mossad every day. I knew this day would come.”
The two allegedly exchanged letters containing information classified as top secret, for which Mr Nozette apparently received an additional £9,000. He also reportedly asked to be given an Israeli passport.
Mr Nozette has been charged with attempted espionage, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison. He will appear in court in Washington later today.