March 8, 2021, 19:04

Woman charged in W.Va. with storing classified information

Woman charged in W.Va. with storing classified information

A West Virginia woman who had already been accused of kidnapping her daughter faces a new charge of storing top-secret information from the National Security Agency in a storage facility she leased, court papers show.

Elizabeth Jo Shirley was charged with willful retention of national defense information in a two-count criminal information filed in federal court in West Virginia last week. That charging document is filed with a defendant’s consent and typically signals an intent to plead guilty.

The document contains only sparse information about the allegations, but says that between 1999 and August 2019, Shirley had unauthorized possession of documents “relating to the national defense” and “failed to deliver them to the officer or employee of the United States entitled to receive them.”

It says that Shirley kept without authorization in a storage facility she leased a document relating to “the national defense that outlines intelligence information regarding a foreign government’s military and political issues.”

Shirley’s attorney did not immediately return a phone message seeking comment.

In a motion last month seeking detention, federal prosecutors cited a risk that she would flee if released before trial and described her as a risk to obstruct justice.

A Justice Department spokesman declined to comment on the case beyond the court filings on Monday and the NSA also declined to comment.

Shirley was accused of kidnapping her six-year-old daughter in July 2019 after she failed to return the child on the agreed-upon date in West Virginia to the wife of the girl’s father. Shirley reported that she was having car trouble and would need to make the drop-off the following day, but instead headed toward the airport and ultimately left the country, authorities said.

Shirley and the girl were found by authorities at a hotel in Mexico City weeks later. The girl was returned to her father, and Shirley was charged with international kidnapping.


Associated Press writer John Raby in Charleston, West Virginia, contributed to this story.

Follow Eric Tucker on Twitter at http://www.twitter/com/etuckerAP


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