US Charges Former Air Force Intel Officer With Spying for Iran

Media playback is unsupported on your device                  Media caption Iranians braved the snow in Tehran to mark their country's 1979 Islamic Revolution

Media playback is unsupported on your device Media caption Iranians braved the snow in Tehran to mark their country's 1979 Islamic Revolution

"Our intelligence professionals swear an oath to protect our country, and we trust them to uphold their oath", said Assistant Attorney General John Demers, who leads the Justice Department's National Security Division.

The US Justice Department charged a former Air Force intelligence official Wednesday with spying for Iran, saying she exposed a fellow US agent and helped the Revolutionary Guard target her former colleagues for cyber attacks.

Witt, who served in the US Air Force from August 1997 to March 2008 and worked from 2008 to 2010 as a government contractor on classified projects, had access to sensitive government materials, officials said.

Monica Elfriede Witt, 39, a former counterintelligence officer, is accused of revealing the Defence Department programme, the details of which are unclear, as well as helping Iranian intelligence services direct hacking and identity theft attempts at her military co-workers.

Witt faces two counts of delivering military information to a foreign government and one count of conspiracy.

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

Witt allegedly gave Iranian officials the code name and mission of a highly classified U.S. Defense Department program and the specific target involved in that intelligence operation. According to authorities, she started working on behalf of Tehran by disclosing classified information and compiling research on US intelligence personnel she previously worked with.

Witt, 39, was recruited after attending the Iranian New Horizon Organization's "Hollywoodism" conference - an event sponsored by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps which prosecutors said was aimed at "condemning American moral standards and promoting anti-U.S. propaganda" and flipping United States intelligence officers into turncoat spies.

"She made a decision to turn against the United States and shift her loyalty to Iran", said Jay Tabb, the FBI's executive assistant director for national security.

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.

Once in Tehran, Iranian authorities provided her with housing and computer equipment, the indictment alleges, and she began work on behalf of Iran.

During that time, she was granted high-level security clearances, learned Farsi at a USA military language school, and was deployed overseas for counterintelligence missions in the Middle East. For me? Well, I loved the work, and I am endeavouring to put the training I received to good use instead of evil.

The indictment also alleges that Witt planned to go to Russian Federation in 2013 to contact WikiLeaks without disclosing her location.

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