Published: Thu, February 14, 2019
Global Media | By Jackie Banks

Monica Witt, former Air Force counterintelligence specialist, accused of spying for Iran

Monica Witt, former Air Force counterintelligence specialist, accused of spying for Iran

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 Witt, who was also a former counterintelligence officer for the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, defected to Iran in 2013, according to the indictment, and remains at large.

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

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

The Justice Department said Wednesday that Monica Elfriede Witt, 39, defected in 2013 after attending a conference in Iran aimed at "condemning American moral standards".

In 2013, Witt traveled to Iran for that year's "Holywoodism" conference.

U.S. officials said Witt, who worked for years in U.S. Air Force counterintelligence, had an "ideological" turn against her country. "She went on to disclose USA classified information" to Iranian government officials and conducting research on United States intelligence personnel as part of "target packages", according to the Justice Department. She possessed high-level security clearances and conducted several classified counterintelligence missions overseas.

"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, Reuters reports. Authorities claim Witt collaborated with the elite Iranian military unit, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

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However, one agent who friended the fake account added the hackers to a Facebook group filled with United States government agents, allowing them to gather more information, according to the indictment.

Witt allegedly provided information on the targets that were worth hacking and even worked with the four hackers to register an impostor Facebook account in the name of a former colleague, successfully befriending other special agents. -Iranian citizen who is identified as "Individual A" in the indictment hired Witt to be her assistant on an anti-American propaganda film.

"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.

Yahoo News reports that she wrote a message claiming that she might "do like [Edward] Snowden", the former U.S. intelligence contractor who leaked thousands of highly-classified documents about the National Security Agency in 2013 before being granted asylum in Russian Federation.

Aided by Individual A, Witt eventually met Iran's ambassador in Tajikistan, who gave her money to fly to Dubai.

USA authorities have not yet arrested Witt, who remains at large in Iran, but a warrant has been issued.

In the few weeks before her defection, Witt is alleged to have conducted searches on Facebook for the names of former fellow counter-intelligence agents, and the spouse of one of them.

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