US naval engineer pleads guilty to spying bid

US naval engineer pleads guilty to spying bid
This March 9, 2015 US Navy handout photo shows the guided-missile destroyer USS Farragut (DDG 99) departing homeport at Naval Station Mayport in Florida to support the Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group.

WASHINGTON - A US Navy engineer pleaded guilty Monday to attempted espionage for Egypt after offering details on the layout of the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier the USS Gerald R. Ford while it was under construction.

Mostafa Ahmed Awwad, 36, a civilian who worked at the Norfolk, Virginia shipyard where the highly sophisticated ship is being built, offered the information to an undercover FBI agent posing as Egyptian intelligence in September.

Awwad, who entered his plea before US District Judge Raymond Jackson, had offered a USB drive with some of the details on the cutting-edge supercarrier's layout.

He also offered to supply the rest of the information on the ship to Cairo.

"The National Security Division will continue to pursue and bring to justice those who abuse their access to sensitive defence information," Assistant Attorney General John Carlin said in a statement.

Assistant FBI Director Randall Coleman stressed that "we prevented the loss of billions of dollars in research costs and the exposure of potential vulnerabilities to our newest generation of nuclear aircraft carrier."

Prosecutors are seeking a prison sentence of eight to 11 years.

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