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Former US Air Force counterintelligence agent charged with spying for Iran

14 February, 2019, 08:44 | Author: Taylor George
  • Monica Witt

"Four Iranian cyberhackers are also charged with various computer crimes targeting members of the us intelligence community who were Ms. Witt's former colleagues", the indictment said.

Monica Elfriede Witt, 39, served in the Air Force from 1997 to 2008 and then worked on classified government projects for two years after that, reports the Washington Post.

The U.S. Justice Department has indicted a former U.S. Air Force intelligence officer for aiding Iran in what Washington says was a cyberespionage operation targeting U.S. intelligence officers.

During her USA government career, authorities said Witt was granted high-level security clearances and was posted overseas on several occasions for counterintelligence missions.

Witt is still believed to be in Iran, which does not have an extradition treaty with the U.S. An FBI official said the Bureau warned her that she was vulnerable to Iranian recruitment. They worked on behalf of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

Witt appears to have turned against the United States some time before February 2012, when she traveled to Iran to attend a New Horizon conference that featured anti-U.S. propaganda.

American investigators allege the Iranians used "fictional and imposter social media accounts" aimed at deploying malware that would give them cover access to their targets' computers and networks.

From December 2014 to May 2015, at least four Iranian nationals created fake Facebook accounts to target Witt's former co-workers, the U.S. alleges.

Similarly, Iran can proceed in its legal bid to recover frozen assets seized by the USA, the International Court of Justice in The Hague ruled on Wednesday.

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Witt learned Farsi at a US military language school and allegedly traveled to Iran for an anti-American event that promoted "anti-U.S. propaganda", and returned again in 2013 when she was provided with housing and computer equipment to work on behalf of Iran.

In conjunction with the indictments, the US Treasury Department has announced sanctions again two organizations - New Horizon Organization and Net Peygard Samavat Company - and nine affiliated individuals for supporting spying operations against US intelligence personnel.

An indictment made public on Wednesday detailed how Witt and Iranian hackers used fake Facebook accounts to target USA counterintelligence officials after she re-entered Iran. Her work for the government ended in 2010.

After leaving the armed forces, she worked as a Defense Department contractor.

In 2012, for instance, the person wrote her, "should i thank the sec of defense...u were well trained".

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

"It is a sad day for America when one of its citizens betrays our country, " said John Demers, an Assistant Attorney-General for National Security. It said she replied: "Well, I loved the work, and I am endeavoring to put the training I received to good use instead of evil".

She moved into special investigations in 2003, focusing on criminal, fraud and counterintelligence investigations, according to the resume. "I am starting to get frustrated at the level of Iranian suspicion".

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