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FBI arrests scientist who worked in Chandrayaan project

Nozette worked in various jobs for the Energy Department and NASA

WASHINGTON/BANGALORE (PTI): A US scientist who played a key role in India's Chandrayaan mission in finding evidence of water on the Moon has been arrested by the FBI on charges of spying for Israel but ISRO said its security has not been compromised.

Stewart David Nozette, a leader in recent lunar exploration work of ISRO and NASA, was arrested on Monday and charged in a criminal complaint with attempting to communicate, deliver and transmit classified information, the Justice Department said.

Nozette(52) was caught trying to sell classified US secrets to a Federal Bureau of Investigation(FBI) agent posing as an Israeli intelligence agent, the Department said.

Indian officials in contact with US scientists in relation to the country's maiden unmanned lunar mission insisted that there was no compromise with ISRO's security since he was not given access to any sensitive information during his visit to India as part of his collaboration with ISRO on Chandrayaan.

Nozette, a Mini-RF principal investigator from the Universities Space Research Association?s Lunar and Planetary Institute, was widely quoted and interviewed by the media both here and in India during the Chandrayaan mission.

In its complaint filed by the FBI before a US Court, he is being accused of spying for Israel; and an unnamed country, which is being code-worded as "Country A" in the 18- page charge sheet.

ISRO sources in Bangalore said the arrest is an internal matter of NASA and ISRO's security has not been compromised.

Nozette did visit ISRO facilities at least twice but he was not allowed into the sensitive and restricted areas, the sources said.

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