Defense contractor from Rochester charged with giving up military secrets

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

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

Thompson was due in court later Wednesday for an initial appearance. She was arrested last week on the espionage-related allegation.

Prosecutors said that during a six-week period starting in late December, when U.S. 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 U.S. government.

Prosecutors said that when officials searched her living quarters, 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.

They said she had given the information in the note to a co-conspirator, in whom she had a romantic interest. The co-conspirator, who was not identified, worked for the Lebanese government and “has apparent connections” to Hezbollah, according to prosecutors.

They said Thompson, who had a top secret government security clearance, was arrested last Thursday at an overseas U.S. military facility. It was not identified.

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