‘I just wanted someone to love me in my old age’
Pentagon linguist, is jailed for 23 years for giving her Hezbollah-linked Lebanese man a list of US spies’ names that she kept under her mattress after he promised to marry her when she retired
Mariam Taha Thompson, 62, a naturalized US citizen, was a translator for the US military in Iraq when she was arrested in February 2020
She was charged with giving classified information to a Lebanese man her relatives in Lebanon had introduced her to over social media
The man who Thompson had never met in person, had promised to marry her and bring her to Lebanon when she retired – she agreed and was planning to move to Lebanon to be with him after she retired
In December 2019, US killed Iranian General Quasem Soleimani in an airstrike that also took out a Hezbollah leader, Hassan Nasrallah
Thompson’s love interest told her he was ‘very upset’ about it and asked her for the names of the US spies behind it, as well as a list of the targets the US were going to pursue next
She agreed, accessing the information at work then either memorizing or writing it on Post-It notes she hid under her mattress, and reciting it to the man over video chat later
On Wednesday, she pled with the judge in a DC federal court for mercy and said she was just ‘desperate for love in her old age
Ignoring her teary pleas, the Judge sent her away for over two decades, meaning she’ll be 80 by the time she gets out
A former Pentagon linguist has been jailed for 23 years for giving her Hezbollah-linked Lebanese love interest a list of US spies’ names that she had been keeping under her mattress.
Defense department contractor, Mariam Taha Thompson, was accused of sharing classified information, including the names of American intelligence assets, with a Lebanese love interest tied to terror group
Thompson, 62, sobbed as she was sentenced on Wednesday in Washington DC Federal Court, saying: ‘I just wanted someone to love me in my old age.’
Thompson who was born in Lebanon but became a naturalized US citizen, had never met the man in person, and was introduced to him in 2019 by her Lebanese relatives on social media.
The man, who is not named in the indictment, asked her to marry him when she retired and move to Lebanon. She agreed, and started video-chatting with him, convinced that they’d be a couple once she quit her job.
Instead, she was arrested in Iraq in February 2020 after turning over the names of eight US spies and ten US targets to him in the wake of an airstrike that killed Iranian General Quasem Soleimani.
At her sentencing hearing on Wednesday, Thompson said she was overcome by a desperation for love in her old age.
Thompson who was never photographed and no cameras are allowed inside federal court. Before she was sentenced to 23 years behind bars, the former defense contractor told the judge: ‘Your honor, I love this country, and I love our soldiers…I did not set out to hurt them or do damage to our national security.
‘I just wanted to have someone to love me in my old age, and because I was desperate for that love I forgot who I was for a short period of time,’ she said, pushing for leniency.
The judge ignored her tearful pleas and sentenced her to 23 years. She’ll be 80 by the time she gets out, if she is still alive.
‘There is no question in my mind that the offense conduct to which the defendant admitted endangered U.S. military personnel and human assets’ work with the United States and accordingly posed a significant threat to national security.
‘This was an actual risk situation, not a hypothetical situation, and therefore it is extremely serious,’ US Judge John Bates said.
Thompson was arrested by the FBI in February 2020 in Iraq. She had been speaking with an unnamed man who, after the US killed Soleimani, started asking her for classified information.
Thompson, a naturalized citizen had been introduced to the man on social media through her Lebanese relatives.
According to the government, the Lebanese man, whose nephew was in the Lebanese Ministry of the Interior, told her that he wanted to marry her and bring her to Lebanon to live there. She agreed, saying she’d move when she retired.
The online paramour also told Thompson that he had ties to the Lebanese Hezbollah.
After Trump launched an airstrike on Soleimani in December 2019 which not only killed him but also Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, founder of Kata’ib Hizballah, the love interest starting asking Thompson for more information.
He was very ‘upset’ about the strikes, according to the indictment against her, and wanted to know which US spies had been behind it.
She agreed and in January 2020, started accessing classified files at work and writing it down on post-it notes to take home. She’d then recite it to the lover over video chat or hold up the notes for him to take screenshots of it. She kept one piece of paper under her mattress.
Prosecutors said that during a six-week period starting in late December 2019, when US airstrikes targeted Iranian-backed forces in Iraq, Thompson repeatedly accessed dozens of files that she had no need to review.
She browsed files containing 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 in March 2020, 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.
Thompson passed on the sensitive information to a Lebanese source linked to the Hezbollah terrorist group “in whom she had a romantic interest,” the charging documents said.
She was arrested in February 2020 and was taken to Washington where she has remained ever since.