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WASHINGTON, DC – (Photo by Samuel Corum/Getty Images)

OAN’s Stephanie Stahl
4:17 PM – Friday, September 22, 2023

A contractor for the State Department and Justice Department (DOJ) is facing espionage charges for using his security clearance to share “top-secret” information with an African nation. 


On Thursday, the Justice Department made an announcement that Abraham Teklu Lemma, 50, has been charged with espionage for transferring classified defense intelligence such as satellite images, maps and notes to an intelligence official allegedly from Ethiopia.

The DOJ alleges that between December 19, 2022, and August 7, 2023, “Lemma copied classified information from Intelligence Reports and deleted the classification markings from them,” then took the materials, which had been classified as top secret and secret, from secure State Department facilities. 

The affidavit alleges Lemma worked in the IT department at the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Intelligence and Research since at least 2021. 

Additionally, Lemma worked as a contract management analyst in the U.S. Department of Justice, meaning he had a top secret security clearance since at least 2020. 

The two espionage charges carry a potential sentence of death or any term of years up to life, and the retention charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years.  

This case is being investigated by the FBI’s Washington Field Office, the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service, and the Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector General. 

A federal judge will determine any sentence based on the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

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