Monday, 18 February, 2019

Former Air Force officer accused of spying for Iran

The U.S. government accused Monica Witt 39 of revealing highly-classified information to Tehran.             
    FBI The U.S. government accused Monica Witt 39 of revealing highly-classified information to Tehran. FBI
Jeannette Daniel | 13 February, 2019, 22:57

All the five suspects named in the indictment are still at large, believed to be located in Iran. They face charges including conspiracy, computer intrusions and identity theft targeting Witt's former colleagues.

"It is a sad day for America when one of its citizens betrays our country", the assistant attorney general for national security, John Demers, said on Wednesday. "But every great while, one of these trusted people fails us".

Witt served as a counterintelligence officer in the Air Force from 1997 until 2008 and worked as a contractor for the Defense Department for two years after that.

Witt replied: "LOL thank the sec of defence?"

According to the indictment, she had access to secret and top secret national defence information, including the names of intelligence sources and clandestine agents, and had been deployed between 1999 and 2003 overseas to collect electronic intelligence.

The DOJ claims Witt has been working ever since with IRGC hacking units to craft and fine-tune cyber-operations against her former Air Force colleagues, some of whom she knew personally. Her work for the government ended in 2010.

She defected to Iran in 2013 after being invited to two all-expense-paid conferences in the country that the Justice Department says promoted anti-Western propaganda and condemned American moral standards.

Billing itself as an "anti-imperialist, anti-Zionist" think tank, New Horizon organized conferences in Iran that cast a critical eye on U.S. and Israeli policy worldwide and stoked accusations of anti-Semitism from Western critics.

That event, which court papers say is sponsored by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, promotes an anti-American viewpoint.

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While in Iran, she also allegedly converted to Islam during a television segment after identifying herself as a USA veteran, and delivered several broadcasts in which she criticised the US.

Terry Phillips, a special agent in the Air Force office of special investigations, said Witt began working for the Iranian government after she left the military.

Witt told the federal agents that if she returned to Iran, she would not provide any information on her past work for the American government. The hackers managed to gain access to a Facebook group of USA government agents.

On the conference's opening day, Mr Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani gave a speech in which he called for regime change in Iran. "Thanks for giving me the opportunity".

She successfully defected in August 2013, after providing a resume and "conversion narrative" to her contact.

Jay Tabb, the FBI's executive assistant director for national security, said Witt was ideologically driven.

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

Provided with housing and computer equipment by the Iranian government, Witt tracked down USA 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.

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