Ex-Navy Translator Charged under Espionage Act

Ex-Wisconsin man charged in espionage case (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)

A former Arab linquist for the military has been charged under the Espionage Act with allegedly copying classified documents and shipping them back to the United States, including to Stanford University, which maintains a collection in his name.

A Navy commander said the security breach by James F. Hitselberger, who previously lived in Wisconsin, has the potential to compromise “everything with respect to source operations in Iraq,” according to documents unsealed in Wisconsin and elsewhere last week. . .

. . . . Hitselberger, 55, was indicted on two counts of taking national defense information. He has been ordered detained without bail in Washington.

From the fall of 2011 to April, Hitselberger worked as a translator for the U.S. Navy in Bahrain, with unlimited access to sensitive material. Commanders were alarmed when they learned he was accused of stealing secret documents. The documents contained sensitive information about troop positions, gaps in U.S. intelligence and commanders’ travel plans.

Hitselberger had access to “all communications with sensitive sources in highly sensitive locations, including communication procedures, true names and tradecraft used by the sources,” an FBI agent wrote in an affidavit for the search warrant. “The witness (a commander) related Hitselberger’s access could have potentially compromised everything with respect to source operations in Iraq.” . . .

. . . From October 2004 to February 2007, Hitselberger worked as a contract linguist for Titan Corp., a subsidiary of L3 Communications. He worked for the military in several camps in Iraq, including in Fallujah and Ramadi. He received a “secret” level security clearance and was trained on how to handle classified information, the affidavit said.

During his time in Iraq working for Titan, Hitselberger was admonished twice for discussing sensitive documents outside his work area. The affidavit does not say how Hitselberger left the employment with Titan, but it ended in 2007. . .

. . . In June 2011, he was hired by Global Linguist Solutions LLC and underwent training on handling classified materials in Virginia and later overseas. He was sent to Bahrain in September 2011 and went to work for a naval warfare group under a joint special operations task force. Its mission is to fight terrorism with direct action, unconventional warfare and surveillance.

“Multiple forces relied on Hitselberger’s expertise in the Arabic language and sent raw data to him regularly for translation,” according to the FBI affidavit. “Through this data, Hitselberger obtained intimate knowledge of sensitive source operations, including true names and addresses of sources.”

Shortly after he arrived in Bahrain, Hitselberger was loudly discussing a secret document dealing with human intelligence that he had translated while eating at the commissary. One of his supervisors told him to stop. Hitselberger laughed at him and began talking again, according to the FBI affidavit. . . . (Read More)

USA v. James F. Hitselberger: Selected Case Files

Document Collector Charged Under Espionage Statute (Secrecy News)

Linguist Charged Under Espionage Act (AP)

 

 

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