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


"Four Iranian cyberhackers are also charged with various computer crimes targeting members of the USA intelligence community who were Ms. Witt's former colleagues", the indictment said.

On Wednesday, an indictment was unsealed charging Witt with tipping off the Iranian government to the existence of a highly classified mission, as well as identifying the target of it and revealing the true identity of a former colleague, putting that person's life at risk.

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 U.S. operations are conducted both internally and overseas.

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.

A former USA counterintelligence agent has been indicted by a federal grand jury for conspiracy to deliver and delivering national defense information to representatives of the Iranian government, prosecutors said.

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

"It is a sad day for America when one of its citizens betrays our country", said Assistant Attorney General John Demers, announcing the indictment. "Her primary motivation appears to be ideological".

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The Justice Department also charged four Iranian nationals with attempting to commit computer intrusion and aggravated identity theft in the case. They also remain at large; arrest warrants have been issued for them.

After Witt returned to the U.S., Federal Bureau of Investigation agents conducted a defensive briefing with her to warn her that she might be the target of recruitment by Iranian security services. "While violations like this are extremely rare, her actions as alleged are an affront to all who have served our great nation".

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. In one such instance, the Cyber Conspirators created a Facebook account that purported to belong to a USIC employee and former colleague of Witt, and which utilized legitimate information and photos from the USIC employee's actual Facebook account.

But later that year, she helped an unnamed Iranian-American official produce an anti-American propaganda film. 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".

During her time in the military, she had top secret clearance, the indictment says, which gave her access to intelligence materials that contained the real names of American sources and clandestine agents.

Iranian hackers are accused of setting up fake social media accounts to befriend the agents that Witt provided information on to try and install spyware to their computers.

Through friend requests, the fake Facebook account managed to befriend several actual USA intelligence agents.