A retired US naval officer has been indicted by a federal grand jury for attempting to sell Navy’s submarine tracking secrets to Russia, as he tried to deal with undercover FBI agents posing as representatives of the Russian government.
The US Justice Department on Thursday identified the sailor as 39-year-old Robert Patrick Hoffmann, announcing that he has been charged with "attempting to provide classified information to individuals who he believed to be representatives of the Russian Federation".
Hoffman, a 20-year veteran of the US Navy, may get a sentence of life imprisonment for attempted espionage.
The naval officer allegedly attempted on October 21 to sell "information classified as SECRET that revealed and pertained to methods to track US submarines," the indictment reportedly states.
The indictment further alleges that Hoffman believed that "such information was to be used to the injury of the United States" and in favor of the Russians.
According to the report, the US sailor held various security clearances while serving in the Navy, gaining access to classified naval data.
Hoffman, the report adds, did not realize that he was handing the classified information to agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) that were conducting an undercover sting operation.
FBI commonly uses its so-called ‘sting operations’ to lure targeted individuals into committing various offenses and after building sufficient evidence against them, it would prompt prosecution against the accused which often leads to long prison terms.