Recent case brings to mind other locals accused of trying to export sensitive U.S. technology

The recent arrest of a local man on charges of trying to steal and export schematics for the nation's most advanced aircraft carrier brings to mind other local cases in which people have been accused of export-control violations.

Mostafa Ahmed Awwad, 35, a York County resident who worked at Norfolk Naval Shipyard, will go to trial in June on two counts of attempting to export to Egypt designs for the Gerald R. Ford carrier, now under construction at Newport News Shipbuilding.

Awwad is accused of turning over the drawings to an undercover FBI agent who was posing as an Egyptian intelligence officer during clandestine meetings this fall at a local hotel and at the Sandy Bottom Nature Park in Hampton.

Here are some of other local cases in which foreign nationals were suspected of transferring — or trying to transfer — U.S. technology overseas.

In February, Robert Patrick Hoffman II, of Virginia Beach, was sentenced to 30 years in prison for attempting to commit espionage against the United States.

Hoffman, now 41, a Buffalo, N.Y., native, spent 20 years in the U.S. Navy, retiring as a first class petty officer in late 2011. While in the Navy, he held a high-level clearance, working aboard submarines to provide technical information to commanders and gather information about adversaries. "Hoffman held security clearances and regularly received access to classified national defense information about U.S. submarines and their capabilities and equipment," the U.S. attorney's office said after the sentencing. This included information "about adversaries, about specific missions, and about U.S. military and naval intelligence."

The FBI began an investigation in early 2012 to determine if Hoffman was "willing to act as an agent for a foreign government and commit espionage against the United States."

Undercover FBI agents then posed as Russian Federation operatives. Hoffman told those agents that he looked forward to "renewing friendship," was "willing to develop a mutual trust," and wanted compensation in money or job assistance.

 

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