Former US air force officer charged with spying for Iran
Former US air force officer charged with spying for Iran
The U.S. government accused Monica Witt 39 of revealing highly-classified information to Tehran.
13 February, 2019, 22:58
A former U.S. Air Force counterintelligence specialist who defected to Iran has been charged with providing classified information to the Islamic Republic, according to an indictment unsealed Wednesday by the Justice Department. The Justice Department on Wednesday announced an indictment against Monica Elfriede Witt, who defected to Iran in 2013 and is now at-large.
While in Iran, she also allegedly converted to Islam during a television segment after identifying herself as a U.S. veteran, and delivered several broadcasts in which she criticised the US. Her work for the government ended in 2010.
"It is a sad day for America when one of its citizens betrays our country", said the head of the Justice Department's national security division, on what is apparently such a day.
The event, though, has received a tepid response overseas, as some objected to the its anti-Iran focus.
During that time, she was granted high-level security clearances, learned Farsi at a US military language school, and was deployed overseas for counterintelligence missions in the Middle East.
Monica Elfriede Witt, 39, was indicted by a federal grand jury in Washington on charges of disclosing the code name and classified mission of a USA military special access program to the Iranian government.
During her time in the military, she had top secret clearance, the indictment says, which gave her access to intelligence materials that contained the real names of American sources and clandestine agents.
Besides charges and an arrest warrant issued in the name of the former USAF service member, the DOJ also indicted four Iranian hackers who supposedly carried out the cyber-attacks acting on information provided by Witt. She also researched private information about colleagues she had worked with and created what the government says were "target packages" for use by the Iranian government.
Witt had been on the FBI's radar at least a year before she defected after she attended an Iranian conference and appeared in anti-American videos. The hackers managed to gain access to a Facebook group of US government agents.
She replied, "LOL thank the sec of defense?"
Iranian hackers then used that information to target those individuals with cyberattacks, the Justice Department said.
After leaving the armed forces in 2008, Witt worked as a contractor for two years, officials said.
Two years later, court papers say, her involvement with Iran began. For me? Well, I loved the work, and I am endeavoring to put the training I received to good use instead of evil.
"On or about July 3, 2013, Witt wrote Individual A, 'I think I can slip into Russian Federation quietly if they help me and then I can contact WikiLeaks from there without disclosing my location", the indictment said.
According to an undated Federal Bureau of Investigation missing persons declaration regarding Witt, she had not been in contact with anyone since 2013. That's a reference to Edward Snowden, a former NSA contractor who leaked classified USA information. The four men were identified as Mojtaba Masoumpour, Behzad Mesri, Hossein Parvar and Mohamad Paryar.
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