Former US air force officer charged with spying for Iran

Nellie Chapman
February 13, 2019

Former US Air Force intelligence specialist Monica Witt has been indicted on seven counts for delivering national defence information to the government of Iran, conspiracy and attempt to commit computer intrusions and aggravated identity theft, according to an indictment filed in US court on Wednesday.

Monica Elfriede Witt, a former Texas resident, left the USA military in 2008 after more than a decade of service.

The Justice Department also accused Monica Elfriede Witt, 39, of betraying former colleagues in the USA intelligence community by feeding details about their personal and professional lives to Iran.

The four men, using fake social media accounts and working on behalf of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, sought to deploy malware that would provide them covert access to the targets' computers and networks, prosecutors said. She returned to Iran in 2013 and was provided housing and computer equipment by Iranian officials. "Her primary motivation appears to be ideological".

Four Iranian nationals were named in the same indictment with Witt.

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.

Witt, 39, served in the Air Force from 1997 to 2008, spending some of that time doing counterintelligence work in the Middle East, before moving to the private sector to work as a contractor.

Prosecutors allege that shortly after defecting to Iran, she handed over information on her colleagues in order to cause "serious damage" to the United States.

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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. US officials believe she is still in Iran. For me? Well, I loved the work, and I am endeavouring to put the training I received to good use instead of evil.

The next year, she went to another Iranian conference and soon arranged to defect, according to the indictment.

She faced resistance for months.

The DOJ reports Witt provided members of Iran's intelligence service with a copy of her resume back in 2013. "I am starting to get frustrated at the level of Iranian suspicion".

She attended the same conference the following year and was hired by an unnamed individual to assist in the filming of an anti-American propaganda commercial. "I'm signing off and heading out!"

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. The shady packages helped the Iranian government to identify, track and neutralize USA counterintelligence agents, Demers said. That group has been designated by the USA government as promoting terrorism.

Four Iranian nationals-Mojtaba Masoumpour, Behzad Mesri, Hossein Parvar and Mohamad Paryar-were charged with those activities in the same indictment as Witt.

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