American arrested for trying to spy for Russia
The US Department of Justice has arrested a former defense contractor on criminal charges related to alleged espionage attempts after he sent classified information to an FBI employee posing as a Russian agent.
John Murray Rowe Jr., who now faces life in prison, was employed for nearly 40 years as a test engineer for multiple cleared defense contractors and held security clearances as high as ‘Top Secret.’
According to the DOJ, which published a press release on Thursday, Rowe was fired from his job after “committing a number of security violations and revealing a fervent interest in Russian affairs,” leading to him being identified as a “potential insider threat.”
Following his removal in 2018, the FBI began an undercover operation to determine Rowe’s willingness to communicate classified information.
In March last year, Rowe met with an FBI employee who posed as a Russian government agent. Over the next eight months, the engineer spoke back-and-forth with the ‘Russian agent,’ divulging knowledge about America’s national security and disclosing classified national defense information about US military fighter jets.
“In one email, Rowe explained, ‘If I can’t get a job here, then I’ll go work for the other team,’” the statement reads.
According to the published affidavit, Rowe also expressed an interest in moving to Russia and obtaining Russian citizenship.
Rowe was arrested on Wednesday and is charged with attempting to communicate national defense information to aid a foreign government. There is no suggestion that he actually made contact with Moscow.
Earlier this year, another American man was jailed for 15 years for spying for Russia. Peter Debbins, a former US Army Green Beret, allegedly worked for Moscow from December 1996 to January 2011.