DOD linguist charged with espionage; accused of supplying U.S. intel sources to Hezbollah contact

Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers, speaks during a news conference to announce a criminal law enforcement action involving China, at the Department of Justice in Washington, Thursday, Nov. 1, 2018.

WASHINGTON–A Defense Department linguist was charged with espionage Wednesday for allegedly supplying the names of U.S. intelligence sources to a foreign national linked to the Hebollah terrorist organization.

Federal prosecutors accused Mariam Taha Thompson, 61, of compromising the sources’ identities by providing the information to a Lebanese citizen, placing their lives in “grave danger.”

“If true, this conduct is a disgrace, especially for someone serving as a contractor with the Unites States military,” Assistant Attorney General John Demers said. “This betrayal of country and colleagues will be punished.”

Thompson was arrested by FBI agents last week at an undisclosed U.S. military facility where she held a top secret government security clearance.

Beginning Dec. 30, the same day that protesters stormed the U.S. embassy in Iraq in response to U.S. airstrikes against Iranian-backed forces in Iraq, Thompson allegedly sought access to classified information that was unconnected to her duties.

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“Specifically, during a six-week period…Thompson accessed dozens of files concerning human intelligence sources, including true names, personal identification data, background information and the photographs of the human assets,” prosecutors claimed,

She also obtained “operational cables” containing detailed information that the sources had provided to the U.S. government, as well as the techniques the sources were using to gather the information, according to court documents.

Prosecutors asserted that Thompson then transmitted the information “in a handwritten note” to the Lebanese national, who was involved in a “romantic” relationship with the linguist. The Lebanese co-conspirator, prosecutors claimed, has “apparent connections to Hezbollah.”

District of Columbia U.S. Attorney Timothy Shea described the alleged conduct as representing a “grave threat to national security…that placed lives at risk.”

In a written statement, the Pentagon said it was cooperating with the continuing criminal investigation, adding that military authorities were taking “all necessary precautions.”

Thompson was due to make her first court appearance in Washington Wednesday.

If convicted, Thompson faces a maximum punishment of life in prison.

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