Woman Charged in Submarine Spy Case to Remain Locked Up

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U.S. District Courthouse where Jonathan and Diana Toebbe had their hearing
People enter the U.S. District Courthouse where Jonathan and Diana Toebbe had their hearing in Martinsburg, W.Va., on Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2021. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

WASHINGTON — A Maryland woman charged along with her husband in a plot to sell submarine secrets to a foreign country must remain behind bars after a judge on Thursday determined she was a flight risk and a danger to national security.

Lawyers for Diana Toebbe had argued for her release during a detention hearing Wednesday. She and her husband, Jonathan, a Navy nuclear engineer, were arrested earlier this month on charges that they violated the Atomic Energy Act.

U.S. authorities say Jonathan Toebbe had tried to pass secrets about sophisticated Virginia-class submarines to someone he thought was a representative of a foreign government but who was actually an undercover FBI agent. Diana Toebbe is accused of serving as a lookout on three separate occasions in which her husband deposited memory cards containing sensitive information at pre-arranged, “dead-drop” locations.

In a ruling Thursday, U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert Trumble rejected arguments from defense lawyers that Diana Toebbe could be released under certain conditions to her Annapolis home.

“Although Defendant has no prior criminal history, the nature and circumstances of the charges against her and her actions demonstrate that Defendant is a danger to every community and to our national security by clear and convincing evidence,” Trumble wrote, also describing her as a flight risk.

The judge also cited evidence found at the couple's Annapolis home that he said suggested they had been preparing to leave the country on short notice, as well as messages between them in which they had discussed the possibility of fleeing.

Lawyers for Diana Toebbe argued that prosecutors had no evidence that she was aware of her husband's activities.

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