Top US scientist accused of trying to spy for Israel A top American scientist who once worked for the Pentagon and Nasa was arrested on Monday night, accused of trying to spy for Israel. By Toby Harnden in Washington Published: 11:57PM BST 19 Oct 2009 Dr. Stewart Nozette at a press conference at the Pentagon in 1996 Photo: AFP Stewart Nozette, 52, developed an experiment that fuelled the discovery of water on the south pole of the moon, and held a special security clearance at the United States Department of Energy on atomic materials. He has been charged with “attempted espionage for knowingly and wilfully attempting to communicate, deliver and transmit classified information relating to the national defence of the US to an individual that Nozette believed to be an Israeli intelligence officer,” the US Department of Justice said. But the person Mr Nozette believed to be an Israeli intelligence officer was in fact an undercover FBI agent in a sting operation, the department said. The US government said there had been no breach of protocol by Israel, which has agreed not to spy on its ally. The 1985 arrest of Jonathan Pollard, a US civilian intelligence analyst at the Pentagon, and his subsequent conviction for spying for Israel, seriously strained US-Israeli relations. After his conviction, he was granted Israeli citizenship and his release is a perennial Israeli demand. The Justice Department said: “From 1989 to 2006, Nozette held security clearances as high as top secret and had regular, frequent access to classified information and documents related to the US national defence.” According to the department, in early September Mr Nozette received a phone call from a person “purporting to be an Israeli intelligence officer, but who was in fact an undercover employee of the FBI”. The sting was conducted after Mr Nozette took what the FBI perceived to be a suspicious trip abroad. Mr Nozette “discussed his willingness to work for Israeli intelligence” and offered to “answer questions in exchange for money”. He was then given money in exchange for answers to lists of questions about American satellite technology. The FBI retrieved a manila envelope left by Mr Nozette in a post office box this month. It “contained information classified as both top secret and secret that concerned US satellites, early warning systems, means of defence or retaliation against large-scale attack, communications intelligence information, and major elements of defence strategy”. During a meeting in a bugged Washington hotel room, Mr Nozette is alleged to have said he wanted to receive cash amounts “under $10,000” to keep him from reporting it to the authorities. At the end of the meeting, he allegedly told the undercover FBI agent: “Well I should tell you my first need is that they should figure out how to pay me … they don’t expect me to do this for free.” The charge carries a maximum sentence of life in prison. Mr Nozette stopped working for the US government in 2006.