The celebrated American scientist charged with spying for Israel had asked for $2 million for his secrets, federal prosecutors has revealed.
The US Federal Bureau of Investigation arrested Stewart D. Nozette on Oct. 19 as he attempted to deliver state secrets to an undercover FBI agent, disguised as an Israeli intelligence operative.
According to the FBI, during the recent weeks and before his arrest, Nozette collected $11,000, through a Washington DC post office box, for sharing sensitive information with the FBI agent.
During his last meeting with the undercover agent, which took place at a Washington hotel after the post office box exchanges, Nozette told the agent that he had "crossed the Rubicon," in terms of sharing sensitive data, and that he wanted $2 million for the secrets, prosecutors wrote, according to a Washington post article on Thursday.
Nozette had held a number of positions throughout the US Federal Government, including its defense and space centers, which gave him a number of security clearances and thus access to very sensitive information.
Nozette had worked as a consultant for an aerospace company owned by the Israeli government, law enforcement officials said, and was working on a lunar mission run by India’s space agency.
Nozette told a colleague last year that he would flee to India or Israel if the US government "tried to put him in jail," according to law enforcement officials and court records. He told his colleagues he would share "everything" he knew with those governments, an FBI agent wrote in court papers.
US prosecutors said that Nozette "posed a grave risk to the national security" and was a flight risk. He is currently being held without bond.
He has a detention hearing scheduled for Thursday in a Washington federal court.
The charges against the US astronomer can bring him a death sentence, although prosecutors do not seem inclined to seek such a punishment.
In a news release, the US Justice Department said that Nozette faces a sentence of life imprisonment if convicted.