Mariam Taha Thompson, 62, formerly of Rochester, Minnesota, was sentenced to 23 years in prison for providing classified national defense information to aid a foreign government. As part of her guilty plea on March 26, Thompson admitted that she believed that the classified national defense information that she handed over to a Lebanese citizen would be delivered to Lebanese Hezbollah, according to a statement by the U.S. Justice Department.
"Thompson’s sentence reflects the seriousness of her violation of the trust of the American people, of the human sources she jeopardized and of the troops who worked at her side as friends and colleagues," said Assistant Attorney General John C. Demers for the Justice Department’s National Security Division. "That Thompson passed our nation’s sensitive secrets to someone whom she knew had ties to Lebanese Hezbollah made her betrayal all the more serious. Thompson’s sentence 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."
According to court documents, Thompson worked as a linguist at an overseas U.S. military facility. Thompson admitted that, beginning in 2017, she started communicating with her handler using a video-chat feature on a secure text and voice messaging application. Over time, Thompson developed a romantic interest in her handler. Thompson learned that the handler had a family member who was in the Lebanese Ministry of the Interior, and that he had received a ring from Hassan Nasrallah, secretary-general of Lebanese Hezbollah.
In December 2019, while Thompson was assigned to a Special Operations Task Force facility in Iraq, the U.S. launched a series of airstrikes in Iraq against Kataib Hezbollah, an Iranian-backed foreign terrorist organization. These airstrikes culminated in a Jan. 3, 2020, strike that resulted in the death of the commander of the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, Qasem Suleimani, as well as the founder of Kataib Hezbollah, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.
Following Suleimani’s death, the handler began asking Thompson to provide "them" with information about the human assets who helped the U.S. assassinate Suleimani. Thompson admitted that she understood "them" to be Lebanese Hezbollah, including a military commander in the organization.
After receiving this request for information in early January 2020, Thompson began accessing 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 details about the assets. Thompson used several techniques to transfer this information to the handler, who told her that his contacts were pleased with the information and that the Lebanese Hezbollah commander wanted to meet Thompson when she came to Lebanon.
When she was arrested by the FBI on Feb. 27, 2020, Thompson had used her access to classified information to provide her handler with the identities of at least eight clandestine human assets, at least 10 U.S. targets, and multiple tactics, techniques and procedures. Thompson intended and had reason to believe that this classified national defense information would be used to the injury of the United States and to the advantage of Lebanese Hezbollah, the Justice Department said.