Saturday, 16 February, 2019

US Air Force officer who defected 'spied 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
Deanna Wagner | 13 February, 2019, 21:55

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

According to charges unsealed on Wednesday by the justice department on Wednesday she defected to Iran in August 2013, taking with her details of U.S. counter-intelligence agents she had worked with, who were then targeted by Iranian hackers, four of whom are named in the indictment and charged alongside Witt.

Monica Elfriede Witt, 39, served in the Air Force from 1997 to 2008 and then worked on classified government projects for two years after that, reports the Washington Post.

The Justice Department on Wednesday announced an indictment against Monica Elfriede Witt, who defected to Iran in 2013 and is now at-large. They also remain at large; arrest warrants have been issued for them.

After leaving the Air Force, she worked as a defense and intelligence contractor, but by 2012 her politics had begun to turn.

The same indictment charged four Iranians for conspiracy and aggravated identity theft, accusing them of helping Witt gather information on her former US government colleagues. That year, an unidentified person contacted her and remarked that she was well-trained.

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.

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The so-called freedom-of-navigation patrols were reported earlier Monday by Reuters, which cited an unidentified USA official. In January, the destroyer USS McCampbell sailed within 12 nautical miles of the Paracel Islands.

They declined to say to what extent these disclosures compromised US intelligence operations targeting Iran. According to authorities, Witt collaborated with Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, an elite military unit charged with exerting Tehran's influence around the world.

Witt allegedly gave Iranian officials the code name and mission of a highly classified U.S. Defense Department program and the specific target involved in that intelligence operation.

The US Department of Treasury has also sanctioned two Iranian companies - New Horizon Organization and Net Peygard Samavat Company - for their role in the plot.

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. USA officials believe she is still in Iran. It said she replied: "Well, I loved the work, and I am endeavoring to put the training I received to good use instead of evil".

The indictment also alleges that Witt planned to go to Russian Federation in 2013 to contact WikiLeaks without disclosing her location.

While in Iran, she also allegedly converted to Islam during a television segment after identifying herself as a USA veteran, and delivered several broadcasts in which she criticised the US.

Iran and the United States are longtime cyber-antagonists.