Former US air force officer charged with spying for Iran

Sergio Conner
February 13, 2019

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

In a grand jury indictment unsealed Wednesday, prosecutors said Witt, 39, provided the Iranian government information about a classified Defense Department program and helped Tehran's intelligence services target her former colleagues in the USA intelligence community.

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

Monica Witt, who allegedly defected to Iran in 2013, had previously worked as a U.S. counterintelligence officer.

A warrant has been issued for Ms Witt, who remains at large.

Witt was working as a contractor in 2012 when she was offered an all-expenses-paid invitation to a "Hollywoodism" conference that was sponsored by the Iranian government and that promoted anti-Western propaganda, according to the Justice Department.

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She revealed to the Iranians a "highly classified intelligence collection program" as well as the true identity of a U.S. intelligence officer, Demers said. The shady packages helped the Iranian government to identify, track and neutralize U.S. counterintelligence agents, Demers said.

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. During her US government career, authorities said Witt was granted high-level security clearances and was posted overseas on several occasions for counterintelligence missions. "Following her defection to Iran in 2013, she is alleged to have revealed to the Iranian government the existence of a highly classified intelligence collection program and the true identity of a USA intelligence officer, thereby risking the life of this individual". 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.

During that time, she was granted high-level security clearances, learned Farsi at a US military language school, and was deployed overseas for counterintelligence missions in the Middle East.

The announcement, which also included sanctions on the New Horizon Organization, organization officials, and a company tied to the hacking effort, came on the opening day of a US-led worldwide conference in Warsaw, Poland aimed at boosting pressure on Tehran. She returned to Iran in 2013 and was provided housing and computer equipment by Iranian officials.

Mesri, Masampour and Parvar also face sanctions for their involvement with Net Peygard, according to the U.S. Treasury Department.

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