Former sailor on trial for espionage

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by Arrianee LeBeau & The Associated Press

WVEC.com

Posted on August 16, 2013 at 7:32 AM

Updated Wednesday, Aug 21 at 4:57 PM

NORFOLK (AP) -- A former sailor on trial for attempted espionage claims he gave classified information to what he believed were Russian spies in an attempt to catch them.

The federal trial for retired Petty Officer 1st Class Robert P. Hoffman II began Thursday in Norfolk. 

Hoffman spent much of his 20-year Navy career on submarines. After a trip to Eastern Europe in 2011, the FBI sent Hoffman a letter purporting to be from Russian intelligence officers asking him to provide "technical expertise."

On Friday, the prosecution presented several witnesses including FBI agents, a Navy specialist and Hoffman's former roommate.

According to testimony, while the FBI was posing as Russian Intelligence Officers, they exchanged several correspondences with Hoffman via email. In the emails there was a request for Hoffman to assist them with obtaining top secret government information. Once Hoffman agreed, the parties discontinued their emails for secrecy purposes and began making "drops" of top-secret information and "pick-ups" at First State Landing Park in Virginia Beach.

Hoffman made three drops in all, including one in which he provided his handlers with information about how to track American submarines.

Hoffman then approached the FBI in Norfolk and gave agents a diary and other evidence.

The trial will resume Monday at 9:30 a.m..

AP-WF-08-16-13 0803GMT

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