US special agent shared classified info with terror suspect lover

On this day: February 5
1994: White separatist Byron De La Beckwith is convicted in Jackson, Mississippi, of the 1963 murder of civil rights leader Medgar Evers. Two previous trials in 1964 had resulted in hung juries. De La Beckwith was sentenced to life in prison and would die in prison in January 2001 at the age of 80.

An alleged forbidden romance with a suspect in a terrorism probe has landed a special agent with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service behind bars on charges related to obstructing a federal investigation and sharing classified information.

Special agent Leatrice Malika De Bruhl-Daniels was warned by contacts at the US State Department and the Department of Homeland Security to “stay away” from Nadal Diya, a Syrian national who was trying to obtain a tourist visa to the US, according to newly released court documents.

Instead, she became romantically involved with Diya despite learning he was part of a DHS probe and an FBI counterterrorism investigation being run out of Houston, an affidavit from an FBI special agent says.

According to prosecutors, Bruhl-Daniels met Diya in June 2016 while she was working at the US Consulate in Dubai and eventually not only told him about the investigations but also warned him he would be arrested if he traveled to the US.

The Maryland native is facing a federal obstruction charge in Houston and will have a detention hearing on Wednesday in Alexandria, Virginia, according to the court docket and documents obtained by CNN.

“Leatrice Malika De Bruhl-Daniels was employed at NCIS as a special agent since February 2010, but had been on indefinite suspension since May 2018. Her access to NCIS material and her security clearance were suspended. She was arrested without incident in Alexandria, Virginia, Sept. 28. Daniels was stationed in Dubai June 2015 to April 2018,” according to NCIS spokesman Adam Stump.

The public defender assigned to Bruhl-Daniels’ case did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment.

After initial communications with a contact from the DHS in June of 2016, Bruhl-Daniels reached out to contacts at the State Department and DHS in early 2017 seeking more information about the investigations into Diya, court documents reveal.

She was put in touch with a Homeland Security Investigations agent in Houston who had an active investigation into Diya related to “his possible involvement in the shipping of goods” from the US to Iran in violation of US export laws.

While communicating with the HSI agent over a classified email system, Bruhl-Daniels indicated she was interested in aiding the investigation and asked for guidance that could “assist me with further contact with him.”

Ultimately, she learned that HSI had interest in Diya but claimed she was not aware of any details related to either investigation, according to the affidavit.

HSI agents did not share details related to the probe with Bruhl-Daniels but did advise her to “stay away” from Diya as he was the target of an ongoing criminal investigation, the court documents state.

However, Bruhl-Daniels continued to engage with Diya and the two entered into a “personal relationship” unbeknownst to federal investigators, the documents say.

The affidavit states that Diya threw an “extravagant birthday party” for Bruhl-Daniels in March 2017 at his Dubai residence that was attended by NCIS and State Department employees, active Navy personnel, US government contractors and close friends of Bruhl-Daniels who traveled from the US to Dubai.

Prosecutors said the estimated cost of the event, which was fully catered and included a DJ and custom birthday cake, was “tens of thousands” of dollars.

Additionally, prosecutors said Bruhl-Daniels also admitted to borrowing $1,400 from Diya for a vacation to Greece, though she said she repaid him with alcohol and that her son began working for Diya’s company, earning $3,000 in two months.

In June 2017, Bruhl-Daniels emailed herself a message that prosecutors interpreted as “proclamations of love for Diya,” according to court documents.

In that email, Bruhl-Daniels allegedly wrote that she had become “deeply attracted” to Diya and acknowledged she was confused by her feelings for him.

She also said she intended to “still fight for your visa situation as much as I can,” the court documents say.

Later, prosecutors say she wrote Diya advising him to get a lawyer, citing some “associates that are well known” to federal law enforcement.

“I gave them no more than what I could to emphasize your innocence,” she said about talks with investigators, adding that she hoped he hadn’t lied to her “since I put my neck out there.”

Prosecutors say she ended her email by asking Diya to “keep me out of” the activity at the heart of the criminal investigation.

During an interview with investigators in December 2017, Bruhl-Daniels failed to disclose her sexual relationship with Diya and the fact that he had given her money and things of value, according to prosecutors.

In April 2018, Bruhl-Daniels was moved from Dubai to Hawaii for a new assignment under which she would be part of a personal security detail for a high-ranking Navy official in Pacific Command.

However, her assignment was canceled shortly after she arrived in Hawaii, due to issues with her security clearance.

It was not until she contacted NCIS officials in May asking for more information on why her assignment had been canceled that prosecutors say she disclosed the extent of her relationship with Diya and that they had remained in contact via text message since she moved to Hawaii.

During these conversations, they say, Bruhl-Daniels admitted to having sexual encounters with Diya, accepting money and gifts from him, and warning him he could be arrested if he traveled to the US.

She repeatedly stated that her intention was to help investigative agencies build a case against Diya but it got personal and she made some mistakes, the documents say.