A 39-year-old former U.S. Air Force counterintelligence specialist is accused of spying for Iran by sharing U.S. defense secrets, according to a federal indictment unsealed on February 13. Monica Elfriede Witt defected to Iran in 2013 and federal authorities say she helped Iranian intelligence services to target former fellow agents in the U.S. intelligence community.
“Witt is also alleged to have disclosed the code name and classified mission of a U.S. Department of Defense Special Access Program. An arrest warrant has been issued for Witt, who remains at large,” the Department of Justice said in a press release. Witt is believed to be living in Iran. The indictment charges her with conspiracy to deliver and delivering national defense information to representatives of the Iranian government.
The indictment also names four Iranian nationals, Mojtaba Masoumpour, Behzad Mesri, Hossein Parvar and Mohamad Parya, who are accused of “conspiracy, attempts to commit computer intrusion and aggravated identity theft, for conduct in 2014 and 2015 targeting former co-workers and colleagues of Witt in the U.S. Intelligence Community.”
The Justice Department adds, “The Cyber Conspirators, using fictional and imposter social media accounts and working on behalf of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), sought to deploy malware that would provide them covert access to the targets’ computers and networks. Arrest warrants have been issued for the Cyber Conspirators, who also remain at large.”
Witt, a native of El Paso, Texas, served in the Air Force from 1997 to 2008. She has also used the names Fatemah Zahra and Narges Witt. She has been added to the FBI’s most wanted list.
“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 said in a statement. “Four Iranian cyber hackers are also charged with various computer crimes targeting members of the U.S. intelligence community who were Ms. Witt’s former colleagues.”
Demers added, “This case underscores the dangers to our intelligence professionals and the lengths our adversaries will go to identify them, expose them, target them, and, in a few rare cases, ultimately turn them against the nation they swore to protect. hen our intelligence professionals are targeted or betrayed, the National Security Division will relentlessly pursue justice against the wrong-doers.”
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