A former US government scientist has been arrested on charges of attempted espionage.Stewart Nozette is accused of trying to hand over classified national defence information to someone he believed to be an Israeli intelligence officer. In reality, Nozette was in contact with an undercover FBI agent. The suspect’s neighbours in Chevy Chase, Maryland, have voiced dismay. One man said: “I’m obviously shocked and I’m really disappointed. It’s hard to believe that something like that could go on in our neighbourhood.” A woman said: “I never had any reason to believe he was involved in any clandestine activity or espionage. (But) he was an odd guy.” Nozette worked for various government agencies, including the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the Departments of Defence and Energy. He faces up to life in prison if convicted on the charges. Officials stress there is no accusation being made against Israel in the case.