In 1985, CIA clerk Sharon Scranage sparked off an espionage scandal after it was revealed that she had shared classified secrets of the agency’s operations in Ghana. Scranage, who joined the CIA in 1976 as a clerk-stenographer, was assigned to work in Accra, Ghana. Between 1983 and 1984, she formed a romantic attachment with Michael Agbouti Soussoudis, an intelligence officer with the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC)—the Ghanaian government, established by Flt. Lt. Jerry John Rawlings after his 1981 coup.
It is still unclear if the CIA ordered this relationship or whether this happened organically. Over the eighteen-months in which the two were lovers, Scranage gave highly classified material to Soussoudis, who in-turn took this to the Ghanaian government. This included lists of all the CIA operatives in Accra, as well as the names of eight Ghanaian dissidents who were secretly collaborating with the CIA.
As a result, these Ghanaian citizens were arrested and issued sentences ranging from 25 years of hard labor to life in prison. Additionally, a coup plot by Godfrey Osei was uncovered. At the time of her discovery in 1985, Scranage was combing CIA files in Virginia for PNDC intelligence officials to expose three Ghanaians cooperating with the CIA from abroad.
Arrested and charged with 18 counts of espionage, Scranage struck a deal with the FBI to lure Soussoudis to the USA for his arrest. Scranage was eventually sentenced to five years in prison, of which she served two, whilst Soussoudis was sentenced to twenty years. Instead of conviction, Soussoudis was traded with the Ghanaian government for those eight CIA agents whose identities he helped compromise. His return to Ghana was reportedly greeted by thousands of cheering citizens.
By Nnenna Onuoha