A Defense Department Linguist was sentenced to 23 years of imprisonment on June 23 for transmitting highly sensitive classified information related to national defense to a foreign government.
Mariam Taha Thompson, 62, from Rochester, Minnesota, pleaded guilty on March 26, admitting that she was aware that the information she passed on to a Lebanese national would then be retransmitted to the Lebanese Hezbollah, a designated terrorist group.
“Thompson’s sentence reflects the seriousness of her violation of the trust of the American people, of the human sources she jeopardized, and of the troops who worked at her side as friends and colleagues,” stated Assistant Attorney General John C. Demers for the Justice Department’s National Security Division.
“That Thompson passed our nation’s sensitive secrets to someone whom she knew had ties to Lebanese Hezbollah made her betrayal all the more serious. Thompson’s sentence should stand as a clear warning to all clearance holders that violations of their oath to this country will not be taken lightly, especially when they put lives at risk.”
Thompson worked as a linguist at a U.S. military facility overseas and had Top-secret government security clearance.
She admitted to having started communication with a co-conspirator through video chat on a secure app and eventually developed a romantic interest in the unindicted co-conspirator, who over time started asking her to provide information to “them” about the people who helped the United States to target Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani.
Thompson confessed that “them” meant the Lebanese Hezbollah, which also involved an unidentified high-ranking military commander.
She subsequently started looking into dozens of files relevant to human intelligence sources, including photographs, background information, their personal data, and details related to the information that the human assets sent to the U.S. Government.
Thompson applied different techniques to transmit the sensitive data to the co-conspirator, who said that his contacts were happy with her work and that the military commander would like to meet her when she went to Lebanon.
“This case should serve as a clear reminder to all of those entrusted with national defense information that unilaterally disclosing such information for personal gain, or that of others, is not selfless or heroic; it is criminal,” Assistant Director Alan E. Kohler, Jr. of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division said.
“By knowingly distributing classified information that would be passed onto a designated foreign terrorist organization, Mariam Thompson put our national defense in danger. The men and women of the FBI will continue to work tirelessly to defeat hostile intelligence activities targeting the United States and to hold those who assist our adversaries accountable.”
Thompson was arrested on Feb. 27, 2020, by the FBI.