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Navy Veteran Charged in 'Russia Spying' Sting: US Officials

RIA Novosti

01:06 07/12/2012

December 6 (RIA Novosti) A retired 20-year-veteran of the US Navy was arrested Thursday and charged with attempted espionage after trying to provide classified information on methods used to track US submarines to people he believed were from Russia, US authorities announced.

The secret information however was in reality turned over to FBI agents in an undercover operation and there was no suggestion of any wrongdoing by Russia itself, according to the FBI and the grand jury indictment from the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.

The suspect, Robert Patrick Hoffman II, "unlawfully and knowingly did attempt to communicate, deliver and transmit to a foreign government, namely, the Russian Federation … information classified as SECRET that revealed and pertained to methods to track US submarines," the indictment stated.

"In fact, the defendant delivered the classified information to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which was conducting an undercover operation," it said, adding that the transfer of the information took place "on or about" October 21 of this year.

The grand jury indictment made no mention of any effort by Russia to acquire information from Hoffman and in a statement the FBI noted that the indictment "does not allege that the Russian Federation committed any offense under U.S. laws in this case".

The FBI described Hoffman as a 39-year-old US citizen born in Buffalo, New York who spent 20 years serving in the US Navy before retiring on November 1, 2011. During his career, he had access to classified and national defense information, the FBI said.

"Hoffman attempted to deliver to the Russian Federation classified documents that revealed national security information. He is alleged to have carried out this activity with the intent to cause injury to the United States and to give an advantage to the Russian Federation," the FBI statement added.

It said he was arrested Thursday "without incident" and was scheduled to appear in court later in the day. If convicted, Hoffman could receive a sentence of up to life in prison.

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