USA charges former Air Force officer with spying for Iran

Former Air Force intelligence officer charged with defecting to Iran and conspiring to share top-secret information

Former US air force officer charged with spying for Iran

The Justice Department alleged she shared with Iran packages of information about her former colleagues so they could be targeted, as well as the code name and mission of a Defence Department Special Access Programme, which was highly classified.

"She made a decision to turn against the United States and shift her loyalty to the government of Iran", Tabb said.

The publication of the indictment coincided with the Treasury Department's announcing a new series of cyber-security related sanctions on a number of Iranian individuals and entities, including the IRGC, which engages in "efforts to recruit and collect intelligence from foreign attendees [of various conferences], including USA persons, and four associated individuals", according to the a release announcing the sanctions.

The Justice Department also charged four Iranian nationals with attempting to commit computer intrusion and aggravated identity theft in the case. Shortly after joining the military, Witt studied Farsi at the U.S. Defense Language Institute in California before deploying overseas for four years to conduct classified missions collecting signals intelligence.

Monica Witt, 39, a former U.S. Air Force officer, indicted for aiding Iran, is seen in this Federal Bureau of Investigation photo released in Washington, DC, U.S., February 13, 2019. "Following her defection to Iran in 2013, she is alleged to have revealed to the Iranian government the existence of a highly classified intelligence collection program and the true identity of a U.S. intelligence officer, thereby risking the life of this individual".

Investigators allege Ms Witt was recruited after attending two conferences hosted by New Horizon Organization, which was working on behalf of the Iranian National Guard's Quds Force to collect intelligence on attendees.

That summer, a dual U.S.

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The DOJ claims Witt has been working ever since with IRGC hacking units to craft and fine-tune cyber-operations against her former Air Force colleagues, some of whom she knew personally.

She defected to Iran in 2013 after being invited to two all-expense-paid conferences in the country that the Justice Department says promoted anti-Western propaganda and condemned American moral standards.

That year, an unidentified person contacted her and remarked that she was well-trained.

"Our intelligence professionals swear an oath to protect our country, and we trust them to uphold their oath", said Assistant Attorney General John Demers, who leads the Justice Department's National Security Division.

"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. "But every great while, one of these trusted people fails us".

She also conducted online research, including on Facebook, to create information "packages" on her former colleagues in the USA intelligence community.

Officials would not elaborate on why the indictment was brought six years after her detection, except to say that they had to move classified intelligence into an unclassified format to be used in a pending criminal proceeding. Prosecutors say Witt met with IRGC personnel at a conference organized by New Horizon. The statute generally requires those witnesses to be promptly released once they are deposed.

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