A translator working for the US Department of Defence in the Pentagon has been sentenced to 23 years in prison for exposing US informants in Iraq. Mariam Thompson, an American citizen born in Lebanon, passed their names to a person affiliated with Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shia militia.
The 62 year old worked as an interpreter for the Pentagon at a foreign military base when she is said to have started an online relationship in 2017 with a man who claimed he had connections to Hezbollah. That man is reported to have had a family member in the Lebanese Interior Ministry, and also claimed that they both had links to Hezbollah's secretary-general Hassan Nasrallah.
In 2019, Thompson was then transferred to Erbil, the capital of the Iraqi autonomous Kurdish region, where she worked with US Special Forces and was given a top-secret government security clearance. The unit based in Erbil was focused on targeting the prominent Iran-backed Shia militia in Iraq named Kataib Hezbollah. That continued until at least 3 January 2020, when the US assassinated Iranian General Qassem Soleimani and the leader of Kataib Hezbollah, Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis.
Thompson's online lover then asked for sensitive information regarding human assets who helped the US conduct the assassination strike. She used her security clearance to provide him with confidential information on US military targets and tactics and data on US informants within Iraq, including the real names of at least eight undercover contacts.
Thompson's actions were discovered and she was arrested in February 2020. According to the Washington Post she said, "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."
Nevertheless, she admitted to providing confidential information which could compromise US informants in the region, and admitted that she knew the information would be passed on to Hezbollah.
In a statement on Wednesday, the head of the Department of Justice's National Security Division John Demers said, "Thompson's sentence reflects the seriousness of her violation of the trust of the American people, of the human sources she jeopardised and of the troops who worked at her side as friends and colleagues."
The assistant director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Counterintelligence Division, Alan Kohler Jr, added that, "This case should serve as a clear reminder to all of those entrusted with national defence information that unilaterally disclosing such information for personal gain, or that of others, is not selfless or heroic; it is criminal."