Former US intelligence officer charged with spying for Iran after defection

Share

US prosecutors have accused a former US Air Force officer of spying for Iran in an elaborate operation that targeted her fellow intelligence officers.

The Justice Department says the Iranian government supplied her with housing and computer equipment so she could "disclose USA classified information" and conduct research on "personnel that she had known and worked with" during her time in the American intelligence community.

Specifically, between January and May 2015, the Cyber Conspirators, using fictitious and imposter accounts, attempted to trick their targets into clicking links or opening files that would allow the conspirators to deploy malware on the target's computer.

"It is a sad day for America when one of its citizens betrays our country", said Assistant Attorney General John Demers, the head of the Justice Department's national security division. From there, her task was to use social media to search for other American counterintelligence officials, and produce "target packages" on them for Iran.

Prosecutors said Witt, who left the Air Force in 2008 and later became a Defense Department contractor, disclosed to Iran the code name and classified mission of a Pentagon special access program.

In a charging document, investigators say the 39-year-old was deployed by the U.S. to locations in the Middle East to conduct classified counterintelligence operations.

Ms Witt is accused of sharing United States government secrets, including the name of agents and specifics of operations, with Iran as early as January 2012.

All the five suspects named in the indictment are still at large, believed to be located in Iran.

In 2012, prosecutors said, Witt traveled to Iran and attended an event which denounced "American moral standards" and promoted "anti-U.S. propaganda".

The U.S. Treasury said Net Peygard targeted current and former U.S. government and military personnel with a malicious cybercampaign, while New Horizon had staged global gatherings to back efforts by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps' Quds Force to recruit and collect intelligence from foreign participants. "Thanks for giving me the opportunity", according to the indictment.

After leaving the Air Force, she worked as an intelligence analyst with major defense contractor Booze Allen Hamilton in 2008 supporting the Army as an Iranian subject matter expert. She continued to serve as an intelligence officer until 2010.

The highest court of the United Nations rejected a USA claim that it did not have the jurisdiction to rule on parts of the case, paving the way for the trial to continue. In short, she worked up dossiers about them that outlined who they were and what kind of work they might have been doing.

Four Iranian nationals-Mojtaba Masoumpour, Behzad Mesri, Hossein Parvar and Mohamad Paryar-were charged with those activities in the same indictment as Witt. In Iran, she has appeared to work at times to publish anti-American articles for the state-owned Press TV.

Last November, US President Donald Trump re-imposed all sanctions on Iran that had been suspended due to the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear agreement.

Share