Former Air Force intelligence worker pled guilty to a plot to hand classified NSA information to Russia after kidnapping her six-year-old daughter and fleeing to Mexico
Elizabeth Jo Shirley from West Virginia, who held a top clearance while serving in various intelligence positions with the Air Force and allegedly planned to offer top-secret information from the NSA to Russia
Shirley, 46, of Hedgesville, WV, faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on the national security charge and up to three years and a $250,000 fine on the kidnapping charge.
While serving in the Air Force, Shirley worked on assignments with the NSA and held various positions with the Navy, Dept. of Defense and Dept. of Energy
Prosecutors said Shirley leased a storage unit and kept documents – without authorization – relating to national defense that outlines intelligence information
July 2019, she was accused of kidnapping her six-year-old daughter after she failed to return the child on the agreed-upon date to the girl’s custodial father
Shirley, who was arrested Aug in Mexico on the kidnapping charges, pled guilty to one count each of willful retention of national defense information and international parental kidnapping
As part of the plea deal she admitted fleeing to Mexico with her daughter Josephine, without the permission of the father
She planned to negotiate with the Russians passage to a country with no extradition treaties with US
Air Force veteran Elizabeth Jo Shirley [photo], from West Virginia, is on trial accused of planning to offer top-secret information from the NSA to Russia
A 46-year-old veteran of the US Air Force planned to offer top-secret information from the National Security Agency to the Russian government, prosecutors said Monday. Elizabeth Shirley was also facing charges for child kidnap.
In accordance with her plea agreement Elizabeth Jo Shirley from West Virginia pled guilty to one count each of willful retention of national defense information and international parental kidnapping, the U.S. Justice Department said.
Shirley of Hedgesville, WV, faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on the national security charge and up to three years and a $250,000 fine on the kidnapping charge.
Shirley was arrested in Mexico in July 2019 and accused of kidnapping her six-year-old daughter Josephine after she failed to return the child to the girl’s custodial father, the primary residential parent, and his wife in West Virginia.
In the same month, authorities found an NSA document in a storage locker she had rented, and more classified material and messages Shirley had drafted to Russian government officials were found on her electronic devices.
Shirley became a fugitive on kidnapping charges after reported that she was having car trouble and promised to the drop-off her daughter to the dad and wife, the custodial parents, the following day. Instead she headed toward the airport and fled the country with the child, authorities said.
The fugitive mother went to Mexico along with her daughter, with the intent of contacting Russian government representatives to request resettlement in a country that would not extradite her back to the United States.
While in Mexico, Shirley prepared a written message that referenced an ‘urgent need’ to have items shipped from the United States related to her ‘life’s work before they are seized and destroyed,’ prosecutors said.
She was arrested last August at a hotel in Mexico City and the girl was returned to her father.
The NSA document was located that month in a storage locker in Martinsburg, while messages Shirley had drafted to Russian government officials along with other classified information were found on her electronic devices.
‘Given Shirley’s troubling conduct after fleeing the United States, the damage to national security could have been far greater had law enforcement not acted swiftly,’ said John C. Demers, an assistant attorney general for national security.
‘Shirley will now be held accountable for betraying the trust of the American people,’ Demers added.