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Married Couple Accused Of Trying To Sell Navy Secrets By Hiding Submarine Data In Peanut Butter Sandwich

Photo: dianatoebbe / Instagram
Jonathan and Diana Toebbe

A nuclear engineer for the U.S. Navy and his wife have been charged with attempting to share some of the most discreet US secrets on submarine technology.

Nations like Russia and China have long sought after these secrets but newly unsealed court documents suggest the couple may have been trying to share details with a country more friendly with the US. 

Who are Jonathan and Diana Toebbe? 

Jonathan Toebbe is a 42-year-old naval engineer with top-level security clearance that was assigned to the Reactor Engineering Division of the U.S. Navy.

Jonathan, along with his wife Diana, a private school teacher, have been accused of selling top-secret U.S. military information for the last year.

According to court documents, in 2020, Jonathan sent a package containing sensitive documents and instructions on how to conduct encrypted communications with him in the future to an unidentified foreign power.

Since then, Jonathan has allegedly been making deals to sell top-secret military data acquired through his role as a high-level navy engineer to his foreign contact.

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Jonathan is accused of being in contact with foreign spies over email discussing espionage and further deals to pass along sensitive information in exchange for bitcoin payments.

Jonathan and Diana allegedly conducted dead drops where they would leave top-secret data at predetermined locations for their foreign spy contact to pick up.

The Toebbes were allegedly paid in cryptocurrency.

At one alleged drop-off, Jonathan left a data card containing sensitive design and operating information on U.S. submarines.

The court documents claim Jonathan carefully concealed the data drive in one half of a peanut butter sandwich while Diana acted as a lookout.

Jonathan and Diana allegedly performed drop-offs and their foreign contacts paid well, as Jonathan charged even more bitcoin to provide a decryption key to decrypt the data on the drives.

Jonathan and Diana reportedly made over $100,000 in bitcoin selling American military secrets to foreign powers. They also allegedly indicated that they had passports and cash ready to go in case they needed to escape the United States with the aid of their foreign allies.

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But there was a problem for our accused traitors. They never actually communicated with any foreign entities.

The spies that the Toebbes were communicating with were FBI agents.

The entire time, all of the emails, the dead-drops, the payments were a trap by the FBI to catch the would-be saboteurs in the act of espionage.

Jonathan and Diana were arrested on October 9th and are due to appear in court this week.

Not that I’m advising anyone to commit treason, but maybe verify that your foreign spy contacts aren’t actually FBI agents BEFORE incriminating yourself on charges of espionage.

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Dan O'Reilly is a writer who covers news, politics and social justice. Follow him on Twitter.