Defense Department Linguist Charged With Espionage
Defense Department linguist Mariam Taha Thompson, 61, was charged on March 4 with 3 counts of espionage after it was learned that she transmitted classified information to a Lebanese person connected to Hezbollah. According to the affidavit, she sent classified information that included the real names of certain “active human assets,” which compromised their activities and placed them in jeopardy.
The DOJ stated,
“While in a war zone, the defendant allegedly gave sensitive national defense information, including the names of individuals helping the United States, to a Lebanese national located overseas,” said Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers. “If true, this conduct is a disgrace, especially for someone serving as a contractor with the United States military. This betrayal of country and colleagues will be punished.”
“The conduct alleged in this complaint is a grave threat to national security, placed lives at risk, and represents a betrayal of our armed forces. The charges we’ve filed today should serve as a warning to anyone who would consider disclosing classified national defense information to a terrorist organization,” said U.S. Attorney Timothy J. Shea for the District of Columbia.“
Thompson was working in Irbil, Iraq at the time as a Defense Department linguist on a special task force. According to Military Times, she “accessed dozens of files concerning human intelligence sources, including true names, personal identification data, background information, and photographs of human assets” during a six week period between late December and early February.
Thompson was arrested on February 27, 2020 at the facility where she was employed in Iraq. As a Defense Department linguist, she held a top secret security clearance.
The affidavit in support of probable cause read in part:
“Starting on or about December 30, 2019, a day after U.S. airstrikes against Iranian-backed forces in Iraq, and the same day protesters stormed the U.S. embassy in Iraq to protest those strikes, audit logs show a notable shift in THOMPSON’s network activity on networked Department of Defense systems accredited to process and store information up to the SECRET level.
A review of THOMPSON’s activities on those government-owned systems showed that THOMPSON accessed infonnation THOMPSON did not have a legitimate need to access. Specifically, from on or about December 30, 2019, to on or about February 10, 2020, THOMPSON accessed approximately 57 files concerning eight human intelligence sources.
These files contained classified national defense information including true names, personal identification data, background information, and photographs of the human sources, as well as
operations cables detailing information the human sources provided to the United States government.
…During a court-authorized search of THOMPSON’s living quarters in Erbil on or about February 19, 2020, FBI special agents discovered a document concealed beneath THOMPSON’s mattress in THOMPSON’s living quarters containing handwritten content in Arabic (”the Note”).
THOMPSON’s living quarters are locked and THOMPSON had exclusive use of the living quarters. FBI Agents reviewed a translation of the Note and confirmed it contains the true names of certain human assets (“Human Assets A, B, and C”).
Specifically, then Note states that the named human assets were collecting information. The Note further instructs that the human assets’ phones should be monitored and a named individual (“Target I”) should be warned. Agents confirmed that the human assets identified in the Note were, in fact, collecting information on behalf of the United States government.”
Thompson admitted that she had a “romantic interest” in the aforementioned Lebanese national. It’s the age-old spy game that even the movies revealed – get the person to be compromised by using relationships of the opposite sex.
If convicted, Thompson faces life in prison if it turns out anyone she revealed was harmed.
Featured photo: The Pentagon (file)