Ex-US Air Force officer Monica Witt charged with spying for Iran

13 February, 2019, 21:56 | Author: Wade Massey
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"This case underscores the dangers to our intelligence professionals and the lengths our adversaries will go to identify them, expose them, target them, and, in a few rare cases, ultimately turn them against the nation they swore to protect", said John Demers, assistant attorney general for national security.

A former US Air Force intelligence officer is accused of spying for Iran as part of an operation that carried out cyber attacks, the Department of Justice announced Wednesday.

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 US military special access program to the Iranian government. They also remain at large; arrest warrants have been issued for them.

"From in or around January 2012 to in or around May 2015, in Iran, and elsewhere outside the jurisdiction of any particular State or district, defendant Monica Elfriede Witt did knowingly and unlawfully combine, confederate, and agree with other persons...to knowingly and unlawfully communicate, deliver, and transmit to a foreign government, specifically Iran, and to that foreign government's representatives, officers, and agents, directly and indirectly, documents and information relating to the national defence of the United States", the indictment said.

Two years later, court papers say, her involvement with Iran began.

Prosecutors said Witt, who left the Air Force in 2008 and later became a Defense Department contractor, disclosed to Iran the code name and classified mission of a Pentagon special access program.

Jay Tabb, the FBI's top national security official, said the Federal Bureau of Investigation had warned Witt before her defection that she was a vulnerable target for recruitment by Iranian intelligence but that Witt had ignored those warnings.

The indictment says the four Iranians were acting on behalf of the government-linked Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Ex-US Air Force officer Monica Witt charged with spying for Iran

They declined to say to what extent these disclosures compromised US intelligence operations targeting Iran.

But later that year, she helped an unnamed Iranian-American official produce an anti-American propaganda film.

According to the FBI, Ms Witt was last seen in southwest Asia in July 2013.

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.

The Justice Department also charged four Iranian nationals with attempting to commit computer intrusion and aggravated identity theft in the case.

Provided with housing and computer equipment by the Iranian government, Witt tracked down US counterintelligence agents she used to work with on Facebook, the indictment said, and disclosed the classified identity of at least one of those agents, according to the charges.

What's the state of US-Iran relations?

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