I’ve known Stu Nozette for over thirty years. This is a shock to me:
…in January of this year, Nozette allegedly traveled to another foreign country with two computer thumb drives and apparently did not return with them. Prosecutors also quote an unnamed colleague of Nozette who said the scientist said that if the U.S. government ever tried to put him in jail for an unrelated criminal offense, he would go to Israel or another foreign country and “tell them everything” he knows.
The complaint does not allege that the government of Israel or anyone acting on its behalf violated U.S. law. In Jerusalem, Israeli government officials had no immediate comment.
The affidavit by FBI agent Leslie Martell said that on Sept. 3, Nozette received a telephone call from an individual purporting to be an Israeli intelligence officer. The caller was an undercover FBI agent.
Nozette agreed to meet with the agent later that day at a hotel in Washington and in the subsequent meeting the two discussed Nozette’s willingness to work for Israeli intelligence, the affidavit said.
Nozette allegedly informed the agent that he had, in the past, held top security clearances and had access to U.S. satellite information, the affidavit said.
The scientist also allegedly said that he would be willing to answer questions about this information in exchange for money. The agent explained that the Israeli intelligence agency, Mossad, would arrange for a communication system so Nozette could pass on information in a post office box.
Nozette agreed to provide regular, continuing information and asked for an Israeli passport, the affidavit alleged.
According to the court papers, Nozette and the undercover agent met soon afterward in the same hotel, where the scientist allegedly said that while he no longer had legal access to any classified information at a U.S. government facility, he could, nonetheless, recall classified information by memory. Nozette allegedly asked when he could expect to receive his first payment, saying he preferred cash amounts “under ten thousand” so he didn’t have to report it.
Nozette allegedly told the agent, “Well, I should tell you my first need is that they should figure out how to pay me … they don’t expect me to do this for free.”
I didn’t know he was Jewish. And maybe he’s not, but while I wouldn’t be shocked (in retrospect) to learn that he is, it seems more mercenary than ideological. I wonder if he was in financial trouble, or if something snapped after working in frustration for the government for three decades, with little progress in space. I mean, what “other foreign country”? It seems to be more anti-US than pro-Israel.
I hope it’s not true, but at least from the news reports, it’s pretty damning. I got an email from someone earlier tonight saying “First Courtney, now this,” but I think that this is a completely different class of…misjudgement, and I wouldn’t put them in the same box at all.
[Tuesday morning update]
Here’s the story at the WaPo.
NASA Watch has more links.