A West Virginia woman has pleaded guilty to fleeing to Mexico with classified national security materials and her daughter, over whom she did not have custody, the Justice Department said Monday.
Elizabeth Jo Shirley pleaded guilty to a count of “willful storage of national defense information” as a spokesman for the agency said in a press release classified at “top secret” level.
“When Shirley took classified information from her work with the intelligence community and later fled to Mexico, she violated the trust the American people placed in her,” said National Security Assistant Attorney John Demers in the statement.
“She was doubled by this betrayal when she tried to offer classified information to the Russian government. We are grateful for the rapid work of our law enforcement partners in locating and arresting defendants in Mexico. Given Shirley̵
The document Shirley admitted he took to Mexico included classified “intelligence information on a foreign government’s military and political issues.”
“In July 2019, Shirley took her six-year-old daughter to Mexico with the intention of contacting representatives of the Russian government to request resettlement in a country that would not extradite her to the United States. Shirley brought with her Mexico’s national defense information, which she illegally had retained, “said the release.
“In Mexico, Shirley prepared a written communication to Russian government officials, citing” an urgent need “to receive” articles sent from the United States related to [her] life’s work before being arrested and destroyed, “it continued. Shirley was arrested and her daughter was recovered outside a Mexico City hotel by US marshals and Mexican authorities, according to the Justice Department.
She now has a sentence of up to ten years for theft of information on national security and up to three years for the kidnapping of her daughter. Shirley also has a $ 250,000 fine for both charges.