Ex-US Air Force Intelligence Agent Charged With Spying for Iran

Clay Curtis
February 13, 2019

Monica Elfriede Witt provided the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), a branch of the country's armed forces, with information related to her work on a secret Pentagon program, according to the indictment released publicly Wednesday.

A former U.S. Air Force counterintelligence officer who defected to Iran six years ago has been charged with spying for the Iranian government and helping Iran target other U.S. intelligence agents.

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.

Washington also charged four Iranian nationals who it said were involved in the cyberattacks.

"Monica Witt is charged with revealing to the Iranian regime a highly classified intelligence program and the identity of a U.S. Intelligence Officer, all in violation of the law, her solemn oath to protect and defend our country, and the bounds of human decency", assistant attorney general John Demers wrote in statement Wednesday. "But every great while, one of these trusted people fails us".

Monica Witt, 39, a former U.S. Air Force officer, indicted for aiding Iran, is seen in this Federal Bureau of Investigation photo released in Washington, DC, U.S., February 13, 2019. Witt replied with a smiley emoticon, "LOL thank the sec of defense?"

At least one of those New Horizon conferences was organised by Iranian-American journalist Marzieh Hashemi, who was detained by United States officials in January as a material witness in a federal criminal case, according to the Tehran Times.

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Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, Baroness Patricia Scotland was also billed to attend the event. The planned trip was facilitated by the Kofi Annan Foundation and the National Peace Committee.

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

Prosecutors say that Witt established relations with individuals she met at the conference, one of whom later arranged her defection to Iran in August 2013, where she received housing and computer equipment from the Iranian government.

Besides charges and an arrest warrant issued in the name of the former USAF service member, the DOJ also indicted four Iranian hackers who supposedly carried out the cyber-attacks acting on information provided by Witt.

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

"Four Iranian cyberhackers are also charged with various computer crimes targeting members of the USA intelligence community who were Ms. Witt's former colleagues", the indictment said. That group has been designated by the USA government as promoting terrorism. The indictment accuses her of assisting "Iranian intelligence services in targeting her former fellow agents in the U.S. Intelligence Community". American officials say the conferences, which promote Holocaust denial and conspiracy theories, serve as a platform for Iran to recruit and collect intelligence.

"She chose not to heed our warning that travel to Iran could potentially make her susceptible to recruitment", Tabb said. "Thanks for giving me the opportunity", according to the indictment.

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