Stewart David Nozette, the former NASA scientist who was arrested for offering to pass along classified information to an FBI agent posing as an Israeli intelligence officer, appeared in court on Tuesday for the first time since arrest.
Nozette waived his right to detention hearings at the U.S. district court in Washington DC until October 29. His remand has been extended until then.
Israeli and American sources said on Tuesday that Nozette had business dealings with Israel Aerospace Industries. Nozette, who is credited with helping discover evidence of water on the moon, was arrested by federal authorities on Monday.
According to the Israeli and American sources, Nozette was hired as an outside consultant to the company. An IAI spokesperson refused to comment on the matter, only to say that it was checking the reports. IAI is Israel's largest exporter of defense and aerospace technology.
During the hearing on Tuesday, a State Prosecutor said the allegations would be viewed with utmost severity.
"Nozette planned to betray the U.S. and was captured on surveillance trying to convey top secret information to the foreign governments. Due to the potential of causing grave damage to U.S. security he most likely faces incarceration for the rest of his life."
The Justice Department said Nozette, 52, of suburban Chevy Chase, Maryland, was charged in a criminal complaint with attempting to communicate, deliver and transmit classified information to an individual he believed to be an Israeli intelligence officer.
The complaint does not allege that the government of Israel or anyone acting on its behalf violated U.S. law.
One of Nozette's Jewish neighbors in Chevy Chase told Haaretz on Tuesday that he was surprised to learn both of the allegations and also of the suspect's Jewish identity.
"He was not really neighborly. He kept to himself. He was a smart but weird guy and we didn't even know he was Jewish," said the neighbor.
In Jerusalem, where the story broke late at night, Israeli government officials had no immediate comment.
Nozette was arrested Monday by FBI agents. He is expected to make his initial appearance in federal court in Washington on Tuesday.
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