Former US Air Force intelligence agent charged with spying for Iran

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

US Air Force officer who defected 'spied for Iran'

Monica Elfriede Witt, 39, was indicted by a federal grand jury in Washington on charges of disclosing the code name and classified mission of a us military special access program to the Iranian government.

The United States on Wednesday indicted a former US Air Force officer Monica Witt for aiding Iran in what Washington characterized as a cyber-spying operation targeting US intelligence officers.

Witt learned Farsi at a USA military language school and allegedly traveled to Iran for an anti-American event that promoted "anti-U.S. propaganda", and returned again in 2013 when she was provided with housing and computer equipment to work on behalf of Iran.

Witt's indictment describes her defection to Iran, her revelation of the name of a U.S. operative conducting counterintelligence against an undisclosed target, and her efforts involving multiple fake accounts on Facebook to compile data on members of the United States intelligence community for the benefit of Iranian operations.

Tabb said "she provided information that could cause serious damage to national security", though he did not provide specifics.

Around the same time, Witt appeared in at least one Iranian video in which she criticized the USA government.

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.

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

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.

An image provided by the Federal Bureau of Investigation shows Monica E. Witt in 2012.

She is now at-large, along with four Iranian hackers who, prosecutors say, used the information she provided to target her former colleagues in the USA intelligence community. They also remain at large; arrest warrants have been issued for them.

USA officials believe she defected to Iran after turning against the US for ideological reasons.

The most notable of the four Iranian hackers is Behzad Mesri, who U.S. authorities also charged in November 2017 with hacking HBO, stealing scripts for unaired episodes of season 6 of the hit series Game Of Thrones TV show, and later attempting to extort HBO execs for $6 million.

Witt is facing one count of conspiracy and two counts of delivering military information to a foreign government. The hackers sent the targets messages and emails that purported to be legitimate but instead contained malicious software that, if opened, would have given them access to the officials' computer and network. The connections she made at that event with dual Iranian-American citizens enabled her to defect the following year.

Among the attempted attack techniques, according to the indictment, was the creation of an imposter Facebook account using the photo of an intelligence agent from a legitimate Facebook account. These hackers proceeded to make fake Facebook accounts to befriend Witt's former agents and attempt to install spyware on their computer activity.

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

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