Susan Lindauer, 41, also accepted $10,000 for her work, said prosecutors on Thursday. She was arrested in her hometown of Takoma Park, Maryland and was to appear in court later in the day in Baltimore, said authorities in New York.
She was accused of conspiring to act as a spy for the Iraqi Intelligence Service and engaging in prohibited financial transactions involving the government of Iraq under ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.
Lindauer worked at Fortune, US News & World Report and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer before beginning her career as a political publicist. She worked for then-US Rep. Ron Wyden before joining the office of former Illinois Sen. Carol Moseley-Braun as press secretary in 1996.
Chris Fitzgerald, a spokesman for Wyden, now a senator, said the office had heard of Lindauer's arrest and expected to issue a statement later in the day.
"She worked for us a short period of time," he said.
Moseley-Braun's current spokeswoman, Loretta Kane, said the former senator does not remember Lindauer.
According to an indictment filed in US District Court in Manhattan, Lindauer made multiple visits from October 1999 through March 2002 to the Iraqi Mission to the United Nations in Manhattan.
There, she met with several members of the Iraqi Intelligence Service, the foreign intelligence arm of the government of Iraq that allegedly played a role in “terrorist” operations, according to the indictment.
Prosecutors accuse Lindauer of trying to influence US foreign policy by delivering to the home of a US government official a letter in which she conveyed her access to and contacts with members of Saddam's government.
The government said she accepted payments from the Iraqis for her services and expenses amounting to a total of $10,000, including $5000 she received during a trip to Baghdad in February and March 2002.
Her acceptance of the money and her willingness to bring it home from Iraq violated a law prohibiting transactions with a government that sponsors international terrorism, the government said. The indictment did not specify a motive.
The charges against Lindauer were included in an expanded indictment in the case against Raid Rokan al-Anbuge, 28, and Wisam Numan al-Anbuke, the sons of Iraq's former liaison with United Nations weapons inspectors.
Lindauer worked for former
Illinois Sen. Carol Moseley Braun
The brothers were charged last year with acting as Iraqi government agents and conspiring to do so, prosecutors said. The indictment said Lindauer conspired with the brothers.
On 8 January, 2003 Lindauer tried to influence US foreign policy by delivering to the home of a US government official a letter in which she conveyed her access to and contacts with members of Saddam's government, said prosecutors. The official was not identified in the indictment.
The indictment said she met on two occasions in Baltimore in June and July with an undercover FBI agent who posed as a Libyan intelligence representative who was seeking to support resistance groups in post-war Iraq.
It said she discussed the need for plans and foreign resources to support these groups.
According to the indictment, she continued to correspond with the undercover agent until last month and followed the agent's instructions to leave packages on two occasions in August in "dead drop" operations.
Lindauer, who was not immediately assigned a defense lawyer, faces up to 10 years in prison on the most serious charge and five years on the lesser charge if she is convicted.