When the U.S. government announced the couple’s arrest on espionage charges last week, it filed a 23-page affidavit in support of a criminal complaint. Packed with technical notes, it also contained details as riveting as any spy novel.

For years, the aspiring spy had gone to remarkable lengths to protect his identity and evade detection, the Washington Post reports.

With a cash-bought burner phone, he created an anonymous email account that could send encrypted messages, according to the FBI, then waited to use it.

To avoid suspicion at his job developing America’s most advanced submarines, he allegedly sneaked out sensitive documents for years, a few pages at time.

The Navy veteran’s work for the U.S. government had taught him to spot the clues that betray insider threats, and, according to an FBI affidavit, he would later brag that“we made very sure not to display even a single one.”

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