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U.S. Intelligence Analyst Given Stiff Prison Sentence For Trying To Pass Information To Russia

A photo of Elizabeth Shirley provided by the West Virginia Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation (file photo)
A photo of Elizabeth Shirley provided by the West Virginia Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation (file photo)

A U.S. intelligence analyst has been sentenced to more than 11 years in prison for kidnapping and stealing national-security materials with the intent of selling them to Russia.

The U.S. Department of Justice said in a statement on January 25 that Elizabeth Shirley of West Virginia, was sentenced "to 97 months of incarceration for unlawfully retaining documents containing national defense information and 36 months of incarceration for international parental kidnapping."

The 47-year-old woman admitted to unlawfully retaining a document containing defense information and international parental kidnapping, the statement said.

“Shirley held a position that required the highest level of trust,” said U.S. Attorney Bill Powell for the Northern District of West Virginia. "When she committed these crimes, she not only broke that trust, she potentially endangered the very people who employed her and her neighbors."

The statement said that, in July 2019, Shirley took her six-year-old daughter to Mexico with the intent of making contact with representatives of the government of Russia to request help in resettling in a country that would not extradite her to the United States.

While in Mexico, the statement said Shirley prepared a written message to Russian government officials, referencing "an urgent need" to have "items shipped from the USA related to [her] life’s work before they are seized and destroyed."

"Shirley betrayed the trust of the American people when she took classified information from her work with the Intelligence Community," said Assistant Attorney General John C. Demers for the National Security Division. "She then sought to profit from her betrayal by seeking to sell this information to Russia, one of America’s foremost adversaries, in order to further her criminal abduction of her daughter."

Shirley had held secret security clearances at various times since 1994 while serving in branches of the U.S. military, the National Security Agency, the Navy's Office of Naval Intelligence, the Department of Defense, the Department of Energy, the National Cyber Investigative Joint Task Force, and at least five different cleared defense contractors.

Mexican police arrested Shirley at the request of the United States in August 2019.

Russia has not commented on the situation.

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