Ex-sailor arrested, accused of attempting to hand over sub secrets

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A former U.S. sailor has been arrested and charged with trying to give classified information about how to track U.S. submarines to people he thought were representatives of the Russian Federation but were actually FBI undercover agents.

Robert Hoffman II of Virginia Beach, Virginia, was arrested Thursday morning for attempted espionage and is scheduled to appear in a Norfolk courtroom in the afternoon.

According to the indictment, on October 21 Hoffman tried to hand over national defense information to people he thought were representatives of the Russian government, including classified information "that revealed and pertained to methods to track U.S. submarines, including the technology and procedures required."

The government alleges Hoffman intended to harm the United States and give and advantage to the Russian Federation. The court documents do not state whether Hoffman sought any money for the materials.

But the information was given to FBI agents who were conducting an undercover operation. The indictment does not charge the Russian government with any wrongdoing.

Hoffman, 39, is described as a 20-year veteran of the U.S. Navy who was trained in cryptology and reached the rank of petty officer first class. He retired from active duty in November 2011.

Hoffman held security clearances, and prosecutors say he signed several documents during his tenure in the Navy promising not to divulge sensitive information.

If convicted, Hoffman could be sentenced to life in prison.