Scientist Stewart Nozette Pleads Guilty to Attempted Espionage

By September 8, 2011

Stewart Nozette, a space scientist who was deeply involved in many of the nation’s most highly classified technology programs, pleaded guilty to attempted espionage for providing classified information to an undercover FBI agent posing as an Israeli intelligence officer.

According to a “factual proffer” (pdf) presented by the government in court yesterday, “The defendant [Nozette] initially claimed to be wary of providing any classified information to the UCE [Under Cover Employee of the FBI].” But with continued encouragement, “the defendant’s purported concerns were soon assuaged,” the proffer document stated, and he proceeded to exchange classified information for cash.

Nozette, who was privy to dozens of special access programs and compartmented intelligence programs, was also an innovative technologist with an impressive record of achievement.  One of the many unsettling features of his story is that in the past, when I knew him slightly, he was not motivated primarily by a desire for money nor was he oblivious to security.  How and why he changed has not been explained.  See, relatedly, “Nozette and Nuclear Rocketry,” Secrecy News, October 22, 2009.

Categories: Secrecy