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Ex-Sailor Charged with Attempted Espionage Over Sub Secrets

In what appears to be another case of the FBI taking credit for cracking a case they created, a former sailor is being charged with attempted espionage, after he allegedly tried to deliver naval secrets to the Russian Federation.

According to the indictment handed down on Thursday, Robert Patrick Hoffman, II, who served for 20 years in the U.S. Navy until his retirement on November 2011, attempted to deliver classified documents that revealed national security information to the Russian Federation. He had access to said documents, as he carried a TS/SCI clearance and had access to SAP’s (Special Access Programs), which are used to further protected classified details.

It’s alleged that the information Hoffman was intending to give out included details on tracking U.S. naval submarines. In fact, Hoffman never delivered the information to the Russians. He delivered it to the FBI, who was conducting an undercover operation, according to the indictment.

That admission is the reason for the speculation that this case is no different from the FBI’s self-created terror plots. It’s happened several times this year, as seen in previous reports covered by SecurityWeek:

Would-be Pentagon Bomber Sentenced to 17 Years in Prison

Man Arrested in Plot to Attack Pentagon via Remote Control Aircraft Loaded with C-4

FBI Sting Operation Thwarts Would-be Suicide Bombing on U.S. Capitol

The FBI was quick to add that the Russian Federation committed no offenses, and broke no U.S. laws. If convicted of his indictment, Hoffman could serve life in prison.

A copy of the indictment is here in PDF format.

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Steve Ragan is a security reporter and contributor for SecurityWeek. Prior to joining the journalism world in 2005, he spent 15 years as a freelance IT contractor focused on endpoint security and security training.