Former US Air Force officer charged with spying for Iran

14 February, 2019, 04:51 | Author: Donnie King
  • Former Air Force intelligence officer charged with defecting to Iran and conspiring to share top-secret information

Witt, 39, served in the Air Force from 1997 to 2008, spending some of that time doing counterintelligence work in the Middle East, before moving to the private sector to work as a contractor.

Monica Witt was charged with espionage after she provided national defense information to the Iranian government, the US Department of Justice said Wednesday.

The Justice Department says the Iranian government supplied her with housing and computer equipment so she could "disclose USA classified information" and conduct research on "personnel that she had known and worked with" during her time in the American intelligence community.

Also charged are four Iranian hackers.

At least one of those New Horizon conferences was organized by Iranian-American journalist Marzieh Hashemi, who was detained by USA officials last month as a material witness in a federal criminal case, the Tehran Times newspaper reported. "Witt may have also travelled to the United Arab Emirates or Iran, where she had previously travelled on at least two other occasions".

Witt is believed to still live in Iran and is at large.

Reuters also reports that the Federal Bureau of Investigation warned her that Iran's intelligence services wanted to recruit her, but she said that if she returned to Iran, she would not talk about her intelligence work.

She also allegedly did research on her former fellow counterintelligence colleagues to help draft "target packages" against them.

A Farsi language specialist, she was deployed to the Gulf area several times on signals intelligence missions, according to the indictment, and had top security clearance giving her access to the identities of clandestine United States agents and informants in the field.

"She chose to turn against the United States and shift her loyalty to the government of Iran", Tabb said. The connections she made at that event with dual Iranian-American citizens enabled her to defect the following year.

The indictment says Witt was part of the Air Force until 2008 and then worked as a contractor for the Defence Department for two years. Authorities claim Witt collaborated with the elite Iranian military unit, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

She was warned about her activities, but reassured agents that she would not provide sensitive information about her work if she returned to Iran. The Justice Department said the information threatened other agents in the USA intelligence community, a federation of 16 agencies.

The IQNA noted that Witt "referred to the extensive propaganda against Iran and Islam in the U.S., saying that the American people are under the influence of the propaganda".

Messages quoted in an indictment unsealed yesterday showed Witt saying that she wanted to "put the training I received to good use instead of evil" around the time of her defection.

Prosecutors say she appeared in multiple videos broadcast by Iranian media, identifying herself publicly as a USA veteran and condemning America. That's a reference to Edward Snowden, a former NSA contractor who leaked classified USA information.

She eventually did, with help from Individual A, in August 2013.

The FBI said Wednesday that it's possible Witt remains a threat, and her former colleagues have been apprised of the charges against her.



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