A Defense Department linguist working for U.S. forces in Iraq was charged with providing top-secret information to a person overseas with apparent connections to the Hezbollah terror group, federal prosecutors said Wednesday.
Mariam Taha Thompson, 61, from Rochester, Minnesota, was arrested on Feb. 27 at a U.S. military facility in Irbil, Iraq, where she was assigned to a special operations task force. Court documents accused her of passing on information about eight people acting as intelligence sources for the U.S., including their true names, photos, background information and other personal data.
"Thompson placed the lives of the human assets and U.S. military personnel in grave danger," the Justice Department said in revealing the charges.
"If true, this conduct is a disgrace, especially for someone serving as a contractor with the United States military," said John Demers, assistant attorney general for the department's National Security Division.
Investigators said that in late December audit logs showed a shift in Thompson's pattern of access to classified information in computer databases. She began to look at nearly 60 files containing personal data about the human sources, court documents said.
The FBI said she passed the information along to a man with whom she had a romantic interest, knowing that he was a foreign national. The man "has apparent connections to Hezbollah," prosecutors said.
Court documents said Thompson admitting relaying the information by memorizing key points in classified documents, writing it down and sending an image of her notes by cellphone.
FBI agents said a handwritten note containing classified information about the sources was found under the mattress in her living quarters.
No information about a lawyer for Thompson was available.