USA charges former Air Force officer for spying for Iran

The U.S. government accused Monica Witt 39 of revealing highly-classified information to Tehran.             
    FBI

Prosecutors say Ms Witt had been granted the highest level of US security clearance and worked in the US Air Force from 1997 to 2008.

The Justice Department has indicted a former Air Force intelligence officer for allegedly helping Iran spy on American intelligence officers, according to court documents.

"Four Iranian cyberhackers are also charged with various computer crimes targeting members of the US intelligence community who were Ms. Witt's former colleagues", the indictment said.

The US Treasury Department also announced sanctions against an Iranian company accused of organizing conferences that served as a platform to recruit Witt, and against another Iranian company suspected of having participated in the cyberattacks.

"In one such instance, the Cyber Conspirators", as the four Iranians are called, "created a Facebook account that purported to belong to a [intelligence community] employee and former colleague of Witt, and which utilized legitimate information and photos from the USIC employee's actual Facebook account", the Justice Department said.

Later that year she worked with Individual A to make a video critical of the United States, and the two continued to communicate.

In February 2013, Witt returned to Iran for another New Horizon conference and told officials there that she wanted to emigrate.

Prosecutors claim that Witt first met with IRGC officers at a New Horizon conference in Tehran in 2012.

But later that year, she helped an unnamed Iranian-American official produce an anti-American propaganda film. Terry Phillips, a special agent in the Air Force office of special investigations, said Witt began working for the Iranian government after she left the military.

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. She had top-level security clearance while working for the USA government and was trained in Farsi by the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California.

As part of its action, the United States sanctioned two Iran-based firms - New Horizon Organization and Net Peygard Samavat Company - and several individuals associated with the two groups. That group has been designated by the US government as promoting terrorism. After leaving the armed forces, she worked as a Defense Department contractor.

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".

Yahoo News reports that she wrote a message claiming that she might "do like [Edward] Snowden", the former USA intelligence contractor who leaked thousands of highly-classified documents about the National Security Agency in 2013 before being granted asylum in Russian Federation.

She successfully defected in August 2013, after providing a resume and "conversion narrative" to her contact. Investigators said they targeted Witt's former co-workers.

U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Jessie Liu said that Witt sought to "undermine the U.S. and help the government of Iran", ABC News reports.

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