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Scientist gets 13 years in espionage case

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WASHINGTON — A former government space scientist was sentenced Wednesday to 13 years in prison after admitting he tried to sell space and defense secrets to Israel in what turned out to be an FBI sting operation.

Appearing in federal court in a prison jumpsuit, Stewart Nozette said he is "paying for a fatal lack of judgment."

"I accept full responsibility," Nozette told U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman.

Prosecutors and Nozette's lawyers agreed to the 13-year sentence, with credit for the two years that Nozette has spent behind bars since his arrest.

Nozette had high-level security clearances during decades of government work on science and space projects at NASA, the Energy Department and the National Space Council in President George H.W. Bush's administration.

Nozette pleaded guilty to one count of attempted espionage, admitting he tried to provide Israel with top secret information about satellites, early warning systems, methods for retaliating against large-scale attack, communications intelligence information and major elements of defense strategy.