MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — A Hedgesville woman has been sentenced to at least 8 years in prison for trying to abscond with top secret information and 3 years in prison for parental kidnapping.
U-S Attorney Bill Powell’s office made the announcement this week. The sentences are set to run concurrently.
47-year-old Elizabeth Jo Shirley pleaded guilty to one count of willful retention of national defense information and
one count of international parental kidnapping in July 2020. She admitted to keeping a top-secret NSA document regarding a foreign government’s military and political issues.
Shirley also admitted to trying to take her child to Mexico. She is the she was the non-custodial parent.
Assistant Attorney General John C. Demers for the
National Security Division. said Shirley ‘ betrayed the trust of the American people when she took classified information from her
work with the Intelligence Community,’
She was reportedly going to try to sell the information to Russia.
Prosecutors said Shirley went to Mexico with the intent of contacting Russian government representatives to request resettlement in a country that would not extradite her back to the U.S.
While in Mexico, Shirley prepared a written message that referenced an “urgent need” to have items shipped from the U.S. related to her “life’s work before they are seized and destroyed,” prosecutors said.
The Air Force Times reports Shirley was arrested in August 2019 at a hotel in Mexico City and the girl was returned to her father. Authorities said the NSA document was located that month in a storage locker in Martinsburg, while messages Shirley had drafted to Russian government officials along with other classified information were found on her electronic devices.
Shirley served on active duty with the U.S. Air Force, and in August 1994, the Air Force granted
Shirley her first TS/SCI security clearance.
After leaving active duty, Shirley served in the U.S.
Air Force Reserves and later in the U.S. Navy Reserves. While serving in the Air Force, she
worked on assignments with the NSA.
From May 2001 to August 2012, Shirley held various
positions with the U.S. 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.
In connection with these positions, Shirley held TS/SCI
security clearances at various times.