Monica Witt, former Air Force counterintelligence specialist, accused of spying for Iran

The U.S. government accused Monica Witt 39 of revealing highly-classified information to Tehran.             
    FBI

A former US Air Force counterintelligence specialist who defected to Iran has been charged with revealing classified information as well as research about her former colleagues to representatives of the Tehran government, prosecutors said Wednesday.

The same indictment charged four Iranians for conspiracy and aggravated identity theft, accusing them of helping Witt gather information on her former USA government colleagues.

Witt first traveled to a "Hollywoodism" conference in 2012, when she appeared in Iranian television videos in which she identified herself as a former USA service member with. Her work for the government ended in 2010.

"It is a sad day for America when one of its citizens betrays our country", said Assistant Attorney General John Demers, announcing the indictment.

The event, though, has received a tepid response overseas, as some objected to the its anti-Iran focus.

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

Monica Witt, aged 39, worked as a cryptologist and a counter-intelligence investigator for the U.S. 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.

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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. Weeks later, she moved to Iran and began compiling the personal information of her former colleagues into "target packages", which the IRGC used to target American intelligence agents.

Witt remains at large in Iran, as do the four hackers, who prosecutors say were acting on behalf of the government-linked Iranian Revolutionary Guard, prosecutors said. According to authorities, she started working on behalf of Tehran by disclosing classified information and compiling research on USA intelligence personnel she previously worked with.

In 2012, prosecutors said, Witt traveled to Iran and attended an event which denounced "American moral standards" and promoted "anti-U.S. propaganda". The hackers managed to gain access to a Facebook group of US government agents. Throughout her tenure with the Air Force, she maintained "high-level" security clearances and even deployed to the Middle East to participate in counter intelligence operations.

"I just hope I have better luck with Russian Federation at this point", Witt wrote her Iranian-American contact in July. Iran's nuclear program was the target of the U.S.

In 2012, for instance, the person wrote her, "should i thank the sec of defense...u were well trained".

She replied, "LOL thank the sec of defense?" For me? Well, I loved the work, and I am endeavouring to put the training I received to good use instead of evil.

"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.

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