A scientist credited with helping discover evidence of water on the moon was arrested on charges of attempting to pass along classified information to an FBI agent posing as an Israeli intelligence officer.
he Justice Department said Stewart David Nozette, 52, of suburban Chevy Chase, Maryland, was charged in a criminal complaint with attempting to communicate, deliver and transmit classified information to an individual he believed to be an Israeli intelligence officer.
The complaint does not allege that the government of Israel or anyone acting on its behalf violated US law.
In Jerusalem, where the story broke late at night, Israeli government officials had no immediate comment.
Nozette was arrested by FBI agents. He is expected to make his initial appearance in federal court in Washington today.
In an affidavit supporting the complaint that was unsealed yesterday, FBI agent Leslie Martell said that on September 3, Nozette received a telephone call from an individual purporting to be an Israeli intelligence officer. The caller was an undercover FBI agent.
Nozette agreed to meet with the agent later that day at a hotel in Washington and in the subsequent meeting the two discussed Nozette's willingness to work for Israeli intelligence.
Nozette allegedly informed the agent that he had, in the past, held top security clearances and had access to US satellite information, the affidavit said.
Nozette also was alleged to have said he would be willing to answer questions about this information in exchange for money.
The affidavit said the agent explained that the Israeli intelligence agency, Mossad, would arrange for a communication system so Nozette could pass on information in a post office box.
Nozette agreed to provide regular, continuing information and asked for an Israeli passport, the government alleged.