Scientists tried to sell secrets for $793,000

A scientist and his wife at one of America’s top national security institutions have been charged with trying to sell nuclear secrets to Venezuela.

The contractors who worked at the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) in New Mexico were accused of giving data to an undercover FBI agent, posing as a Venezuelan government official.

The two were allegedly involved in a suspicious plot to help Venezuela build an atomic bomb. The charges do not extend to Venezuela’s government.

Pedro Leonardo Mascheroni, 75, a naturalised US citizen from Argentina, and Marjorie Roxby Mascheroni, 67, a US citizen, allegedly asked for a fee of $793,000 from the undercover spook in exchange for secrets worth “millions”. The secrets allegedly detailed how Venezuela could build a bomb and use a secret underground facility to enrich plutonium.

“This indictment is serious and should serve as a warning to anyone who would consider compromising our nation’s nuclear secrets for profit,” said Assistant Attorney General Kris. “I applaud the many agents, analysts and prosecutors who worked tirelessly to bring about this prosecution.”