WASHINGTON (AP) — A woman who worked as a contract linguist for the U.S. military in Iraq pleaded guilty Friday to sharing classified information with a romantic interest linked to the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah.
Mariam Taha Thompson was arrested last year in an espionage case that investigators said put the lives of American military members and confidential sources at risk and represented a significant breach of classified information.
Thompson, 63 and formerly of Rochester, Minnesota, pleaded guilty to a single count of delivering national defense information to aid a foreign government. She admitted as part of a deal that she shared the names of U.S. government assets with a Lebanese man with connections to Hezbollah.
Assistant Attorney General John Demers, the Justice Department’s top national security official, said in a statement that the actions represented “a disgraceful personal and professional betrayal of country and colleagues.”
Sentencing was scheduled for June 23. A lawyer for Thompson, who faces up to life in prison, did not immediately return a phone message seeking comment.
Thompson began communicating with the man, whom she never met in person, in 2017 after being connected via social media by a family member, and she ultimately developed a romantic interest in him, prosecutors said.
After a January 2020 U.S. strike that killed Iran’s top general, Qassem Soleimani, the Lebanese man — who is not named in court papers — asked Thompson to provide “them” with information about the human assets that had helped the U.S. target Soleimani.
Investigators say Thompson accessed dozens of files about human sources, including their names, photographs, background information and operational cables that described the information they had gathered. She agreed to provide the classified information to the man; officials say she had planned to marry him, and was afraid he would end her relationship if she did not cooperate.