Stewart Nozette

Chevy Chase scientist pleads guilty in espionage case

Stewart D. Nozette of Chevy Chase was a gifted scientist privy to America's top secrets.

On Wednesday, he admitted trying to sell those secrets to a foreign government. With his guilty plea to attempted espionage, the astrophysicist was rebranded a would-be traitor.

Nozette, 54, stood in an orange prison jumpsuit in the District of Columbia's federal court as he conceded that he had accepted $11,000 in cash in 2009 in exchange for passing classified materials about U.S. satellite defense systems to a person Nozette believed was an Israeli intelligence officer.

Nozette answered "yes" when U.S District Judge Paul L. Friedman asked whether he understood that he...