Secret documents revealing gaps in US intelligence on Bahrain's political situation were stolen by an Arabic translator at the Navy Base in the Juffair district of the Kingdom, a report said.Former linguist James Hitselberger was arrested in 2012 after being charged with removing classified documents from a workspace at Naval Support Activity (NSA) Bahrain, according to a report in the Gulf Daily News (GDN).
He printed the documents off a classified computer, stuffed them in his backpack and tried to walk out of a secure work area, according to prosecutors.It was even alleged that the 57-year-old would take military situation reports back to his sleeping quarters for examination later.One such classified report made its way in to the hands of an archivist at Stanford University in the US and was found to contain several portions marked “secret,” including one “section that discusses gaps in US intelligence with respect to the political situation in Bahrain,” a government submission to the court said.
Serious charges were initially brought against Hitselberger, including three under the US Espionage Act, which could have carried a combined total of 39 years in prison for the former naval linguistic contractor.
However, last week, prosecutors in the case downgraded this to a single count of removing classified information without permission, which carries a maximum penalty of just one year in jail or a fine of up to $100,000.Hitselberger, described as a balding, mustachioed, middle-aged man in court reports, pleaded guilty to this count and now awaits sentencing, which has been set for July 17.
The linguist, who is fluent in Arabic, Farsi, and Russian, was hired by Global Linguist Solutions in June 2011, which assigned him to work for NSA Bahrain.No one from NSA Bahrain was available for comment when contacted by the GDN Sunday.