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Engineer accused of trying to sell military secrets pleads guilty, could serve 11 years

Posted at 7:01 PM, Dec 10, 2014
and last updated 2015-06-15 23:50:03-04

UPDATE: Awwad pleaded guilty to attempted espionage. He faces between 8 and 11 years in prison. Sentencing is scheduled for September.

An engineer made it his life's mission to steal American military secrets and give them to his home country.

That's what prosecutors outlined in a federal court hearing on Tuesday. Investigator Mike Mather was there when prosecutors revealed that when the carrier Gerald R. Ford first sets sail, Mostafa Awwad would know how to sink it.

Marshals quickly moved Awwad into a waiting van. A judge deemed him too dangerous to release.

At the same time, his wife and mother-in-law, along with a neighbor, hurried into a car. In court they heard for the first time details of his secret life. A prosecutor said Awwad was a spy and a hacker who planned to steal military secrets.

Click here to read the full indictment of Mostafa Ahmed Awwad

Click here to read the full affidavit in support of search warrants

Mostafa Awwad, a civilian engineer working for the Navy, is accused of trying to sell computerized blueprints and diagrams of the carrier Gerald R. Ford to the Egyptian government. Federal documents say the person he handed the documents to was actually an undercover FBI agent.

Awwad was born in Saudi Arabia, but is a naturalized U.S. citizen. Prosecutors say he considers himself Egyptian.

This is the second time in a year federal prosecutors have pursued accused spies in Norfolk. Robert Hoffman was sentenced to 30 years for trying to sell secrets about U.S. submarines to Russia. Likewise, Hoffman was caught in an undercover operation where FBI agents posed as foreign officials.

The Hoffman case was brought up in the hearing Wednesday, with a judge saying this one appeared more damaging. Prosecutors said an undercover federal agent, posing as an Egyptian official, recorded on video what Awwad wanted to do.

“We can move this technology to Egypt, Allah willing," he told the agent." I can get you whatever diagrams you want. Whatever information you want.”

He also boasted he would show Egyptian officials “where the Ford could be hit and drowned... That`s it. Bye bye.”

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Civilian Navy engineer charged with attempting to steal, pass schematics of USS Gerald R. Ford to Egypt