updated 12/6/2006 7:40:03 PM ET 2006-12-07T00:40:03

A Navy petty officer was sentenced Wednesday to 12 years in prison for stealing a military laptop and peddling its contents to a foreign government.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Ariel J. Weinmann admitted guilt to espionage, desertion, larceny and destruction of government property before a military judge at Norfolk Naval Station earlier this week.

The Salem, Ore., submariner could have received life without parole, but a plea agreement spared him the maximum. He also was dishonorably discharged.

Officials had accused Weinmann of passing classified information to representatives of undisclosed foreign governments in Austria and again in Mexico.

Weinmann, 22, deserted from the submarine Albuquerque in July 2005 after becoming disillusioned with the Navy. He told the court on Monday that he sought to live in another country.

Customs agent Allen Brock testified in August that Weinmann was found in March carrying a piece of paper with the names, Social Security numbers and birth dates of two individuals, as well as a notebook whose handwritten contents aroused suspicion.

Weinmann was found at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport with $4,000 cash, three CD-ROMs, an external computer storage device and memory cards for storing digital images.

The information contained on the CDs has been classified.

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