Tuesday, January 31st | 9 Shevat 5783

June 24, 2021 2:34 pm

US Military Linguist Given 23-Year Sentence for Passing Intel on American Assets to Hezbollah

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A supporter of Lebanon’s Hezbollah gestures as he holds a Hezbollah flag in Marjayoun, Lebanon May 7, 2018. REUTERS/Aziz Taher/File Photo

A Minnesota woman has received a 23-year prison sentence for handing classified defense information to a Lebanese man who conveyed it to Hezbollah, which the US has designated a terror organization.

A Wednesday press release from the US Justice Department said that Mariam Taha Thompson, 62, who was born in Lebanon and lived in Rochester, Minnesota, served as a contract linguist at a US military facility overseas who was given top secret clearance.

In 2017, she began interacting with a Hezbollah agent via secure video chat and fell in love with him. Thompson was aware that the man had Hezbollah connections.

In 2019, Thompson served with the US military in Iraq while the US was conducting strikes against Iran-backed militias there.

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Following the January 2020 execution in a US drone strike of arch-terrorist Qassem Soleimani, commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, Thompson’s handler asked for information on the intelligence contacts who may have aided in Soleimani’s execution.

Thompson then accessed dozens of files on human assets involved with the US, sending extensive personal information to her handler. The Justice Department said she knew it would be handed over to Hezbollah, which is backed by Iran.

Thompson provided information on eight human assets, 10 US targets, and a large body of other intelligence information before being arrested by the FBI on Feb. 27, 2020.

The Washington Post reported that Thompson pleaded for leniency in court before her sentencing, saying, “Your honor, I love this country and I love our soldiers. … I did not set out to hurt them or do damage to our national security.”

“I just wanted to have someone to love me in my old age, and because I was desperate for that love I forgot who I was for a short period of time,” she said.

US District Judge John D. Bates, however, rejected the defense’s request for a seven-year sentence, saying, “There is no question in my mind that the offense conduct to which the defendant admitted endangered US military personnel and human assets’ work with the United States and accordingly posed a significant threat to national security.”

However, the judge chose not to impose the 30-year sentence requested by the prosecution, on the grounds that due to Thompson’s age it would be effectively a life sentence.

John C. Demers, assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s national security division, expressed satisfaction with the sentence, saying it “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.”

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