US says ex-intel official defected to Iran, revealed secrets

The U.S. government accused Monica Witt 39 of revealing highly-classified information to Tehran.             
    FBI

Monica Elfriede Witt, 39, a former counterintelligence officer, is accused of revealing the Defence Department programme, the details of which are unclear, as well as helping Iranian intelligence services direct hacking and identity theft attempts at her military co-workers.

Monica Witt was charged with espionage after she provided national defense information to the Iranian government, the US Department of Justice said Wednesday. While working with the US government, Witt was granted high-level security clearances and was deployed overseas to conduct classified counterintelligence missions, the indictment says.

She returned to Iran the next year and began disclosing classified information to Iranian officials, including on her former colleagues in the United States intelligence community.

According to a Department of Justice indictment unsealed Wednesday, Witt had high-level security clearances and helped Iran launch a cyber-spying operation which targeted her former colleagues.

In February 2013, Witt returned to Iran for another New Horizon conference and told officials there that she wanted to emigrate, defecting in August of that year.

"Witt's primary motivation appears to have been ideological".

The Texas native served in the Air Force between 1997 and 2008, where she was trained in Farsi - the predominant language of Iran - and was deployed overseas on classified counterintelligence missions, including to the Middle East.

Monica Elfriede Witt, a former Texas resident, left the USA military in 2008 after more than a decade of service.

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Tabb said investigators believe Witt's motive was "ideological", and the indictment against her alleges that, before she defected, she appeared in videos that she knew would be broadcast by Iranian media outlets and "made statements that were critical of the U.S. government".

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

The indictment says Witt was part of the Air Force until 2008 and then worked as a contractor for the Defence Department for two years.

Net Peygard targeted current and former USA government and military personnel with a malicious cyber campaign, officials said.

Now the Treasury claims the conferences were also an intelligence gathering and recruiting ground for Iran's elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. "Thanks for giving me the opportunity", according to the indictment.

In the weeks after defecting, she also conducted several Facebook searches of her former colleagues, and is alleged to have exposed one agent's true identity, "thereby risking the life of this individual". They are suspected of attempting to introduce malware into the USA officials' computers. The connections she made at that event with dual Iranian-American citizens enabled her to defect the following year.

In one instance, the conspirators created a fake Facebook account using information from the employee's real Facebook account. Mojtaba Masoumpour, Behzad Mesri, Hossein Parvar and Mohamad Paryar got ahold of malware that tracks a person's computer activity, accesses their web camera and captures what they type.

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