US Air Force agent charged with espionage for Iran

14 February, 2019, 08:40 | Author: Sue Mclaughlin
  • Former Air Force intelligence officer charged with defecting to Iran and conspiring to share top-secret information

"Monica Witt is charged with revealing to the Iranian regime a highly classified intelligence program and the identity of a U.S. Intelligence Officer, all in violation of the law, her solemn oath to protect and defend our country, and the bounds of human decency", said Assistant Attorney General John Demers in the indictment.

USA officials said Witt supplied classified information about US intelligence officers after defecting to Iran in 2013.

An indictment made public on Wednesday detailed how Witt and Iranian hackers used fake Facebook accounts to target United States counterintelligence officials after she re-entered Iran.

"She made a decision to turn against the United States and shift her loyalty to Iran", said Jay Tabb, the FBI's executive assistant director for national security.

Witt traveled there in February 2012 to attend the New Horizon Organization's "Hollywoodism" conference, the indictment says.

The Justice Department has indicted a former Air Force intelligence officer for allegedly helping Iran spy on American intelligence officers, according to court documents. Investigators say her reasons for defecting were "ideological".

Monica Elfriede Witt, aged 39, worked as a cryptologist and a counter-intelligence investigator for the USA air force for more than 10 years before becoming an intelligence analyst for the defence contractor Booz Allen Hamilton in 2008 and doing other private sector work.

This image released on February 13, 2019 shows the Missing Person page of the Federal Bureau of Investigation website for Monica Elfriede Witt, 39, a former USA air force counterintelligence officer.

Four Iranians were also charged for conspiracy and aggravated identity theft including Mojtaba Masoumpour, Behzad Mesri, Hosseini Parvar, and Mohammad Paryar.

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The Justice Department has issued arrest warrants for Witt and the four Iranians, who all remain at large. Today, the Times exposed a top-secret US intelligence program aimed at sabotaging Iranian missiles.

The indictment said Witt was recruited during trips to Tehran in 2012 and 2013 with help from an unidentified "Individual A", a dual US-Iranian citizen whose description resembles Hashemi.

The efforts included software to capture keystrokes and break into web cameras, as well as malware-infused attachments passed off as pornographic photos created to fool USA officials into letting Iranian hackers tunnel into their computer networks.

Dubbed the "Cyber Conspirators", these Iranians allegedly worked with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) to covertly target computers and networks with malware.

It's unclear from the indictment if the agents clicked on the links or what information was obtained from using the fake e-mails and Facebook accounts.

After leaving the Air Force, she worked as an intelligence analyst with major defense contractor Booze Allen Hamilton in 2008 supporting the Army as an Iranian subject matter expert. That year, an unidentified person contacted her and remarked that she was well-trained.

However, one agent who friended the fake account added the hackers to a Facebook group filled with U.S. government agents, allowing them to gather more information, according to the indictment.

She wrote Individual A that she wanted to put her Air Force training "to good use instead of evil".

According to the indictment, she had access to secret and top secret national defence information, including the names of intelligence sources and clandestine agents, and had been deployed between 1999 and 2003 overseas to collect electronic intelligence.

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