U.S. News

Former congressional aide ruled unfit for trial

Susan Lindauer speaks to journalists as she departs Federal Court in New York on March 15, 2004. REUTERS/Chip East

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A former aide in the U.S. Congress charged with giving secret information to Iraqi intelligence agents is mentally incompetent to stand trial, a federal judge has ruled.

Susan Lindauer, 45, a former journalist who worked as a press aide to several members of Congress, was arrested in 2004 and accused of passing information to Iraqi intelligence agents about Iraqi dissidents living in the United States.

She was not charged with espionage but was accused of receiving $10,000 dollars for her services.

A psychiatrist called by prosecutors testified at a hearing on Monday that Lindauer was unfit to stand trial as she had a delusional optimism about her chances of winning the case.

U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska sided with prosecutors, ruling that Lindauer was mentally unfit for trial.

That followed a similar ruling in 2006 by Judge Michael Mukasey, now the U.S. attorney general, who described the charges as weak but said Lindauer was disturbed.

Lindauer, a distant relative of former White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card, claimed she was targeted by the government for saying the Iraq war would be a disaster. She insisted on going to trial to defend herself against the charges.

At that time doctors for both the defense and prosecution found she suffered from delusions of grandeur and paranoia.

“I was effectively gagged and silenced,” Lindauer said in a statement at the hearing.

Reporting by Christine Kearney, editing by Michelle Nichols