DOJ: She Knew US Secrets and Gave Them to Iran

DOJ: She Knew US Secrets and Gave Them to Iran

Former counterintelligence officer Monica Witt defected to Iran in 2013, and allegedly helped the Islamic Republic target her former American colleagues.

US authorities on Wednesday charged former Air Force intelligence officer Monica Witt with helping Iran launch a cyber-spying operation that targeted her former colleagues after she defected from the United States.

Witt's defection and subsequent collaboration with Iranian hackers were made much worse because she also had high-level security clearance and field duty experience, and indirectly helped Iranian intelligence gain deep insight into how United States operations are conducted both internally and overseas. Her work allegedly included sharing classified information and assembling dossiers on eight of her former US intelligence colleagues.

Witt herself was recruited by Iran after attending two worldwide conferences organized by New Horizon, U.S. officials said.

After her re-entry, Iranian government officials gave Witt housing and computer equipment, where she disclosed classified US information to an Iranian government official.

"It is a sad day for America when one of its citizens betrays our country".

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

On arrival in Iran, the Tehran government is said to have provided her with housing and computer equipment for her to help track down U.S. intelligence officers.

"Witt's primary motivation appears to have been ideological".

The US has charged a former Air Force intelligence specialist with spying for Iran, according to an indictment unsealed in federal court Wednesday.

The same indictment charges four Iranian nationals, Mojtaba Masoumpour, Behzad Mesri, Hossein Parvar and Mohamad Paryar with conspiracy, targeting former colleagues of Witt in the US Intelligence Community.

The government issued an arrest warrant for Witt, who remains at large. Today, the Times exposed a top-secret US intelligence program aimed at sabotaging Iranian missiles.

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.

Four Iranians said to have been involved in the cyber-attacks were also charged along with two Iran-based businesses, New Horizon Organization and Net Peygard Samavat Company.

The announcement, which also included sanctions on the New Horizon Organization, organization officials, and a company tied to the hacking effort, came on the opening day of a US-led global conference in Warsaw, Poland aimed at boosting pressure on Tehran.

Witt used fake Facebook accounts to search for United States counterintelligence officials on the social network, according to court documents.

The indictment suggested that Iran had reached out to her at least as far back as 2012. These hackers proceeded to make fake Facebook accounts to befriend Witt's former agents and attempt to install spyware on their computer activity.

"The alleged actions of Monica Witt in assisting a hostile nation are a betrayal of our nation's security, our military and the American people", said Terry Phillips, special agent of the Air Force Office of Special Investigations.

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