"I just wanted to have somebody to love me in my old age," 63-year-old Mariam Taha Thompson told a sentencing hearing this week. Prosecutors said that was a poor excuse for passing US military secrets—including the names of informants—to a foreign national she knew had links to Hezbollah, a designated foreign terrorist organization. Thompson, a Defense Department linguist who had been stationed at a US Special Operations facility in Iraq, pleaded guilty in March to delivering classified national defense information to aid a foreign government. A man she was romantically linked with had asked for the information after the January 2020 airstrike that killed Iranian military commander Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani. She was sentenced to 23 years in prison Wednesday, the BBC reports.
Thompson, who was born in Lebanon and became a US citizen in 1993, said she had met a Lebanese national on social media in 2017 and he had expressed interest in marrying her, according to court documents. She said she never met the man in person and admitted she was aware of his links to the militant group, CBS reports. Prosecutors said Thompson used her top-secret clearance to obtain dozens of classified files, including the identities of at least 8 "clandestine human assets," reports the Washington Post. Thompson pleaded for leniency, saying she hadn't meant to hurt anybody and wanted to spent time with her grandchildren before she died. Federal prosecutors asked for a 30-year sentence to reflect 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." (Read more espionage stories.)