A former US Department of Energy employee has been indicted after he attempted to hack into agency computers to steal and sell nuclear secrets.
Charles Harvey Eccleston, aged 62, has been living in Davao City since early 2011 and was arrested in an FBI sting operation after he entered a foreign embassy and offered to hand over classified information.
Eccleston is being accused of selling the top-secret information to Iran, China and Venezuela. The FBI set up the sting operation after agents posed as representatives of a country. Eccleston then sent “spear-phishing’ emails to the contact so they could extract classified nuclear information.
Eccleston may face up to 50 years behind bars for his part in the sale and theft of the information. He was arrested by Philippine authorities in Manila on March 27 and deported to the United States.
“As alleged in the indictment, Eccleston sought to compromise, exploit and damage US government computer systems that contained sensitive nuclear weapon-related information with the intent to allow foreign nations to gain access to that material,” said Assistant Attorney General John Carlin.
“When asked what he would do if Country A was not interested in obtaining the US government information Eccleston was offering, Eccleston stated he would go to China, Iran or Venezuela, as he believed these countries would be interested in the information,” according to FBI documents seen by AFP.
Eccleston, a US citizen, was sacked from his job in 2010 “due to performance and conduct issues.”