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By Mike Blair

The military continues to say very little about the apprehension of a sailor who has been accused of selling highly classified information from a U.S. nuclear attack submarine to unspecified countries. A Navy source in Norfolk, Va., where accused spy Petty Officer Third Class Ariel J. Weinmann is being held, told American Free Press that it is one of the worst cases of espionage in U.S. history.

While Russia has been mentioned as one of the countries involved in the ring, there have also been reports that top secrets were handed to Israel.

At first, press reports cited Russia as being the only country to receive top-secret files that Weinmann allegedly stole from the nuclear attack submarine, the SSN-706 Albuquerque. However, the Saudi Arabian newspaper, Al- Watah, reported on Aug. 8 that sources close to the investigation said Israel did receive stolen secrets.

Since then, Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) officials have categorically denied reports that Israel was given the computer secrets.

Weinmann’s father, Robert, told Associated Press that Weinmann is not Jewish. He said his family’s heritage is German.

Al-Watah reports that Weinmann’s betrayal is the biggest spy case since Jonathan Pollard, a civilian intelligence analyst caught in 1985 providing secrets to Israel.

Pollard was convicted and is currently in prison for life despite several attempts by the Israeli government to free him.

Weinmann faces court-martial and possible life in prison. He allegedly deserted from the U.S. submarine on July 3, 2005, and was arrested last March 26 by U.S. Customs officials at the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. Some $4,000 was found on him in $100 bills.

Investigators also found computer storage devices, computer discs and a notebook that contained information that reportedly prompted federal agents to inspect the computerized records, from which they discovered top secret information from the submarine.

Investigators kept the case under close wraps until Weinmann appeared before a hearing July 25 at the Norfolk base. He has been charged with desertion, larceny, destroying U.S. military property, failure to obey orders or regulations and espionage.

The Navy report alleges that, while “serving at or near Bahrain, Mexico, and Austria,” Weinmann engaged in espionage “with intent or reason to believe it would be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of a foreign nation, [attempted] to communicate, deliver or transmit classified confidential and secret information relating to the national defense, to a representative, officer, agent or employee of a foreign government.”

(Issue #35, August 28, 2006)

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Updated August 19, 2006