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US Defense Department contractor accused of spying for Hezbollah

Mariam Taha Thompson, 61, suspected of sharing classified information, including the names of American intelligence assets, with a Lebanese love interest tied to terror group

Iraqi Shiite fighters from the Iran-backed Hezbollah brigades march during a military parade in Baghdad on May 31, 2019. (Ahmad Al-Rubaye/AFP)
Iraqi Shiite fighters from the Iran-backed Hezbollah brigades march during a military parade in Baghdad on May 31, 2019. (Ahmad Al-Rubaye/AFP)

A US Defense Department linguist has been charged with giving classified information, including the names of American intelligence assets, to a Lebanese national with ties to the Hezbollah terror group, the Justice Department announced Wednesday.

Federal prosecutors accused Mariam Taha Thompson, 61, formerly of Rochester, Minnesota, of turning over information that placed in danger those intelligence assets and American military personnel.

“By compromising the identities of these human assets, Thompson placed the lives of the human assets and US military personnel in grave danger,” it said.

Thompson, who worked for the Defense Department as a contractor, was due in court later Wednesday for an initial appearance. She was arrested last week on the espionage-related allegation at an overseas US military installation.

Prosecutors said that during a six-week period starting in late December, when US airstrikes targeted Iranian-backed forces in Iraq, Thompson repeatedly accessed dozens of files that she had no need to review. Those files included the names of human assets, their photographs and cables detailing the information that the sources provided to the US government.

Prosecutors said that when officials searched her living quarters earlier this month, they found a handwritten note in Arabic concealed under her mattress with information about Defense Department computer systems and warning of a Defense Department target.

She conveyed the sensitive information to a Lebanese source linked to the Hezbollah terrorist group “in whom she had a romantic interest,” it said.

Hezbollah is listed as a terror organization by the US, UK, Canada and the Arab League. It was formed in 1982 under the guidance of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps to combat Israel.

It has since served as the Islamic Republic’s arm at Israel’s doorstep. It has risen from a small-armed group located mainly in south Lebanon to a formidable force with a major presence in and influence on Lebanese politics.

The group possesses tens of thousands of trained fighters, as well as an array of sophisticated armaments. Its intervention in Syria on the side of President Bashar Assad also expanded its influence and reach in the region.

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