US Air Force officer defects to Iran, charged with cyberspying

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Prosecutors say Ms Witt had been granted the highest level of US security clearance and worked in the US Air Force from 1997 to 2008.

Monica Elfriede Witt, the 39-year-old former agent named in the grand jury indictment, is accused of exposing members of the USA intelligence community, targeting former colleagues with an elaborate computer scheme run by Iran, and exposing a top-secret Defense Department program considered one of the "crown jewels of us intelligence", according to Fox News.

The indictment said Monica Witt exposed a USA agent and helped Iran's Revolutionary Guards develop cybertargets in the US military after defecting to Iran in 2013. Mojtaba Masoumpour, Behzad Mesri, Hossein Parvar and Mohamad Paryar are charged with computer intrusion and aggravated identity theft.

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. "Witt may have also travelled to the United Arab Emirates or Iran, where she had previously travelled on at least two other occasions". Iran's nuclear program was the target of the U.S.

After moving to Iran and converting to Islam, prosecutors claim Witt was housed by the Iranian government and provided with a computer, which she used to compile "target packages" containing information for her new employers on American military and intelligence personnel.

A Farsi language specialist, she was deployed to the Gulf area several times on signals intelligence missions, according to the indictment, and had top security clearance giving her access to the identities of clandestine U.S. agents and informants in the field.

"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.

A previously issued Federal Bureau of Investigation missing persons poster said she was working as an English teacher in either Afghanistan or Tajikistan, and had lived overseas for more than a year before vanishing.

The Iranian hackers also used photos and information of another United States counterintelligence official to create a fake Facebook account for friending other agents.

She eventually did, with help from Individual A, in August 2013.

Four Iranians who helped Witt in the cyber hack were also named in the indictment. The Justice Department said the information threatened other agents in the USA intelligence community, a federation of 16 agencies.

After finishing her career with the Air Force, Witt worked as a government contractor for two years. -Iranian citizen who is identified as "Individual A" in the indictment hired Witt to be her assistant on an anti-American propaganda film.

Today, the Times exposed a top-secret USA intelligence program aimed at sabotaging Iranian missiles.

"I loved the work, and I am endeavoring to put the training I received to good use instead of evil", she allegedly told her IRGC contact.

"Espionage by past or present members of the intelligence community poses a significant threat to our country and a heightened danger to their former colleagues", he said.