DoD linguist charged for transmitting classified intelligence - Task & Purpose

DoD linguist charged for transmitting classified intelligence to Hezbollah-linked foreign national

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Pro-Iranian Hezbollah militants in Lebanon, Beirut hold flags during the funeral procession of five of their colleagues who were killed in clashes with Turkish army in the Syrian province of Idlib, March 1, 2020

Pro-Iranian Hezbollah militants in Lebanon, Beirut hold flags during the funeral procession of five of their colleagues who were killed in clashes with Turkish army in the Syrian province of Idlib, March 1, 2020

The U.S. government said on Wednesday it had charged a Defense Department linguist with transmitting classified intelligence to a foreign national linked to the Lebanese Islamist group Hezbollah, saying she revealed the names of key American assets.

Mariam Taha Thompson, 61, formerly of Rochester, Minnesota, was arrested by FBI agents at an overseas military base on Feb. 27. She is due to make an initial appearance on Wednesday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

John Demers, the Justice Department's assistant attorney general for national security, called Thompson's alleged conduct a "disgrace" to her country.

"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," Demers said in a statement.

"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 Justice Department said that during its investigation, it discovered audit logs showing a "notable shift" in Thompson's network activity on the Defense Department's classified systems.

The discovery came on Dec. 30, 2019, a day after the U.S. launched air strikes against Iranian-backed forces in Iraq and the same day that protesters there stormed the U.S. embassy in response.

The information Thompson was looking up involved dozens of files on human intelligence sources she had no need to access, including their names, photographs and other personally-identifiable information, the department said.