‘I just wanted someone to love me in my old age’: Pentagon linguist, 62, 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 was a translator for the US military in Iraq when she was arrested in February 2020
- She had been giving classified information to a Lebanese man her relatives in Lebanon had introduced her to over social media
- The man promised to marry her and bring her to Lebanon when she retired
- In December 2019, the US killed Iranian General Quasem Soleimani in an airstrike that also took out a Hezbollah leader
- Thompson’s love interest said he was ‘very upset’ about it and asked her for the names of the US spies behind it
- He also asked her for 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 and reciting it to the man over video chat later
- On Wednesday, she begged the judge for mercy and said she was just ‘desperate for love in her old age’
A 62-year-old 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.
Mariam Taha Thompson sobbed as she was sentenced on Wednesday in Washington’s federal court, saying: ‘I just wanted someone to love me in my old age.’
She had never met the man in person, and was introduced to him on social media by her Lebanese relatives on social media in 2019.
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 – who was born in Lebanon but became a naturalized US citizen – said she was overcome by a desperation for love in her old age.
Mariam Taha Thompson, 62, worked as a contract linguist between 2006 and sobbed as she was sentenced on Wednesday in Washington’s federal court. She has been sentenced to 23 years behind bars. Pictured is the Pentagon, which she was contracted by. She has never been photographed and no cameras are allowed inside federal court
‘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.’
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.
The pair had been introduced on social media through Mariam’s Lebanese relatives. She was born in Lebanon but became a naturalized citizen.
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 Lebanese man convinced Thompson to give him classified information after this US airstrike in December 2019 which killed a Hezbollah leader and Iranian general
Quasem Soleimani was killed in the airstrike as was Hassan Nasrallah, the head of Lebanon’s powerful Shiite Muslim movement Hezbollah
He also told her 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.
She was arrested in February 2020 and was taken to Washington where she has remained ever since.