US authorities announced that an Egyptian engineer was arrested and charged on Friday after he allegedly tried to pass top-secret information to Cairo regarding an American aircraft carrier.
No statements had been posted on the websites of either Egypt’s Ministry of Defense or Foreign Affairs regarding the news on Saturday. While several privately owned media outlets in Egypt have covered the story, state-owned publications have not.
According to US broadsheet The Washington Post, an attempt at espionage by a 35-year old Egyptian naval engineer, identified as Mostafa Ahmed Awwad, was recently uncovered by an FBI agent in the state of Virginia.
The newspaper identified this FBI agent as an Arabic-speaking man dubbed “Youssef,” who managed to gain Awwad’s trust by posing as an Egyptian intelligence officer. This agent would eventually hand Awwad over to American authorities as part of a sting operation.
After working as a civilian naval engineer (for a duration of seven months) at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard, Awwad allegedly sought to collect and relay top-secret information pertaining to a US$13 billion aircraft carrier being constructed in Virginia.
According to both The Washington Post and USA Today, Awwad sought to steal schematic designs for the nuclear-powered USS Gerald R. Ford and pass them on to the Egyptian government.
USA Today wrote that the FBI agent had uncovered Awwad’s attempts to “utilize his position of trust with the US Navy to obtain military technology for use by the Egyptian government, including but not limited to, the designs of the USS Gerald Ford nuclear aircraft carrier.”
Currently in detention, Awwad’s first court hearing is scheduled for December 10.
He is presently facing two criminal charges – attempted export of defense materials and attempted relay of secretive technical data. If found guilty, Awwad could face a maximum of 40 years’ imprisonment for both crimes.
Egyptian authorities have yet to clarify their official position regarding these claims, allegations and the criminal charges that have been leveled against Awwad.