The Maryland scientist arrested this week on suspicion of attempted espionage had contributed to the Reagan administration’s “Star Wars” missile defense program, the Associated Press reported yesterday (see GSN, Oct. 20).
Stewart Nozette, 52, is charged with two counts of trying to communicate, deliver and transmit classified secrets. He was arrested on Monday after he reportedly shared information on U.S. satellite technology with an undercover FBI agent posing as an Israeli intelligence officer.
Nozette had knowledge of “some of our most guarded secrets,” so he could have caused significant harm to U.S. national security if successful in transferring the information, Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony Asuncion said yesterday in federal court.
Nozette was ordered jailed without bond. He is next scheduled to appear in court on Oct. 29. If convicted, the suspect could be sentenced to life in prison.
Former co-worker Scott Hubbard said Nozette had specialized in defense technology and had been involved in the 1980s Strategic Defense Initiative.
“This was leading edge, Department of Defense national security work,” said Hubbard, a former NASA staffer who is now at Standford University.
Nozette was based out of the Energy Department’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California while he worked on the Star Wars program, according to Hubbard. While working for the agency, Nozette carried a security clearance that allowed him access to “critical nuclear weapon design information”.