Local espionage suspect released to halfway house

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Jude rules Leonardo Mascheroni poses no threat to community or national security

ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — A physicist accused after an FBI sting operation of trying to help Venezuela develop a nuclear weapon has been released to a halfway house.

Pedro Leonardo Mascheroni appeared Monday in Albuquerque before a federal magistrate.

A defense attorney argued Mascheroni has posed no threat to national security or a danger to the community in the 11 months since a search warrant was served at his Los Alamos home.

The judge also agreed to place Mascheroni's wife, Marjorie, on house arrest.

The couple were accused of offering to help develop a nuclear weapon for Venezuela while dealing with an FBI undercover agent posing as a Venezuelan agent.

The U.S. government is not alleging Venezuela or anyone working for it sought U.S. secrets.