A woman who formerly lived in Rochester is the subject of federal charges of espionage, having been accused of sending defense department secrets to a foreign terrorist group.
Mariam Thompson was charged in the District of Columbia, accused of "transmitting highly sensitive classified national defense information to a foreign national with apparent connections to Hizballah," the terrorist group based in Lebanon also known as Hezbollah.
The information allegedly sent by Thompson includes national defense information regarding "active human assets," including their true names, thus placing the lives of them and other U.S. military personnel in danger.
Thompson, who worked as a military contractor providing expertise as a linguist, was arrested on Feb. 27 at an overseas U.S. military facility. She held Top Secret government security clearance.
"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,” said Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers.
"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 conduct alleged in this complaint is a grave threat to national security, placed lives at risk, and represents a betrayal of our armed forces. The charges we’ve filed today should serve as a warning to anyone who would consider disclosing classified national defense information to a terrorist organization," said U.S. Attorney Timothy J. Shea for the District of Columbia.
What did she allegedly do?
According to the Department of Justice, the investigation was sparked on Dec. 30, a day after U.S. airstrikes against Iranian-backed forces in Iraq, which in turn sparked protesters to storm the U.S. embassy in Iraq protesting those strikes.
A few days later, the U.S. retaliated by ordering the assassination by airstrike of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani.
The DOJ says that after the Dec. 30 protests, there was a "notable shift in Thompson's network activity" on the DoD's classified systems, including "repeated access to classified information she had no need to access."
Over a six-week period, she allegedly accessed "dozens of files concerning human intelligence sources, including true names, personal identification data, background information, and photographs of the human assets, as well as operational cables detailing information the assets provided to the United States government."
A search of her living quarters led officers to find a handwritten note in Arabic under her mattress, which contained classified information from DoD computer systems. The note warned someone who was a DoD target, who had links with Hizballah.
She sent this information to a "co-conspirator, in whom she had a romantic interest." This was revealed to be a foreign national who relative worked for the Lebanese government, with the co-conspirator later found to have links to Hizballah.