America’s first spy couple since Julius and Ethel Rosenberg in the 1950s is facing additional charges related to espionage.
Jonathan and Diana Toebbe were indicted on Tuesday evening by a grand jury for communication of restricted data and conspiracy. Both had already been arrested and charged with a criminal complaint for violating the Atomic Energy Act on October 9th. During separate hearings in a West Virginia federal court on Wednesday, the couple pleaded not guilty to the charges, according to USA Today.
Jonathan is a Navy nuclear engineer and Diana was a teacher at Key School in Annapolis Maryland. Now, possible motives for their alleged espionage are beginning to come out as the media descends upon them.
Several dozen friends of the couple were interviewed by The New York Times, painting a somewhat complex picture of two people who were beset by various anxieties, mostly financial, as well as an ideological cast that put them in opposition to the United States government and, in particular, former President Donald Trump.
Important to the indictment of Diana in particular, both were alleged to be actively involved in the selling of the secrets and, while Jonathan reportedly did the actual smuggling of secret information out of his job, Diana allegedly had full knowledge of what was going on and accompanied Jonathan to the dead drops used to pass the information along.
It’s no secret that Diana in particular despised then-president Trump, and seriously considered leaving the U.S., according to friends interviewed. Political and ideological considerations were reportedly very important to her.
However, there may have been a bigger motivator at play: money. A desire for big-time cash is often the motivator behind such cases, and it appears to be true that they had financial woes, and the friends interviewed said the couple had seemed to feel undervalued, on top of the anxieties of money and raising two children.
The couple had lost their home during the 2008 financial crisis, and Jonathan was working on a Ph.D, with an annual stipend of $20,000. This is believed to have been the reason Jonathan joined the US Navy where income and career stability for someone with his skills would be more reliable. The couple reportedly had a combined income of $210,000 at the time of their arrest.
In spite of this seemingly acceptable income, Diana had often complained about her teacher’s annual salary of $60,000. Jonathan, meanwhile, is alleged to have repeatedly stated to friends that he had to “provide for his family” as far back as 2010, presumably a reference to providing for them financially.
Legal sources close to the case told the Times that money was probably the single largest factor in the couple’s alleged betrayal of the nation, saying that in exchange for nuclear submarine secrets, they were given an initial payment of $100,000 in cryptocurrencies.
The judge involved in the indictment determined that the couple are a significant flight risk, and so they are currently being held without bail.
On Wednesday, FBI agent Peter Olinits reportedly told the court that investigators had found a “go bag” when a search was made of the couple’s Annapolis home after their arrests earlier this month.
The bag was “packed for travel, passports for their two children, $11,300 in hundred dollar bills wrapped in a rubber band, a cryptocurrency wallet and shredded documents,” USA Today reported.
“I think she would try to leave the country,” Olinits said.
If convicted on all counts, the two alleged would-be spies could be facing life sentences in federal prison.
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