Stewart Nozette

March 22, 2012 by staff 

Stewart Nozette, A FORMER government space scientist has been sentenced to 13 years in prison for admitting that he tried to sell space and defence secrets to Israel in what turned out to be an FBI sting operation.

Appearing in federal court in a prison jumpsuit, Stewart Nozette said he is “paying for a fatal lack of judgment”.

“I accept full responsibility,” Nozette told US District Judge Paul Friedman.

Prosecutors and Nozette’s lawyers agreed to the 13-year sentence, with credit for the two years that Nozette has spent behind bars since his arrest.

Nozette had high-level security clearances during decades of government work on science and space projects at NASA, the Energy Department and the National Space Council in President George H.W. Bush’s administration.

Nozette was known primarily as a defence technologist who had worked on the Reagan-era missile defence shield effort, nicknamed Star Wars and formally called the Strategic Defence Initiative.

Nozette pleaded guilty to one count of attempted espionage, admitting he tried to provide Israel with top secret information about satellites, early warning systems, methods for retaliating against large-scale attack, communications intelligence information and major elements of defence strategy.

In court, prosecutors played a videotape of Nozette telling an FBI undercover agent posing as an Israeli spy that “I’ve sort of crossed the Rubicon,” or passed a point of no return.

On the video, Nozette said he would charge Israel “at most one per cent” for passing information about an unspecified program that Nozette said cost the US government $US200 million ($A191.48 million).

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