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U.S. diplomat's wife accused in British teen's traffic death was U.S. intelligence, attorney

Anne Sacoolas was until this week known only as wife of a U.S. diplomat.

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London, Regent Street
A man walks up a deserted Regent Street, March 30, 2020 in London, England.
(Leon Neal/Getty Images)
Updated: February 5, 2021 - 3:33pm

The American woman accused of killing a British teenager in a 2019 traffic accident and previously been identified as the "wife of a U.S. diplomat" was in fact working for U.S. intelligence at the time of the incident, her lawyer now says.

The woman, Anne Sacoolas, is charged with fatally striking teen Harry Dunn while driving on the wrong side of the road in England.

However, in court this week, her lawyer told the judge in Virginia that she was working for U.S. intelligence at the time of the tragic incident.

The statement from her attorney raises questions about whether Sacoolas had diplomatic immunity when she fled Britain following the accident and returned to her Virginia home in the summer of 2019.

Initially, the Trump administration denied Britain's request to extradite Sacoolas, and last week, the Biden administration confirmed that it considered that decision to be final. 

Sacoolas has been charged in England with causing death by dangerous driving, and the family of Dunn, a 19-year-old motorcyclist, has also launched a wrongful death suit in the United States seeking financial damages.

"Mr. and Mrs. Sacoolas were employed by an intelligence agency of the United States, and that's why she left," said John McGavin, an attorney for Sacoolas.

Due to the nature of his client an her husband's positions in the intelligence service, McGavin told the court, he was unable to "disclose" in its entirety, the nature of the couples' exit from Britain. 

The British government told reporters this week that it had not been informed of any intelligence role that Anne Sacoolas had been playing, rather, that she was a "spouse with no official role."

"The critical question has always been: Was Anne Sacoolas working at the time of crash at Croughton? We’ve never been able to establish that through official channels. All along, we were told she was a dependent. Now, her own lawyer blurts out in court, she’s an employee. And employees had their immunity pre-waived under the 1995 agreement," Radd Seiger, an attorney for the Dunn family told The Washington Post about the case's most recent revelation. 

However, the U.S. State Department maintains the position that "at the time the accident occurred, and for the duration of her stay in the U.K., the U.S. citizen driver in this case had immunity from criminal jurisdiction."

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