Former U.S. Counterintelligence Agent Charged With Revealing Classified Information to Iran

Former U.S. Counterintelligence Agent Charged With Revealing Classified Information to Iran

Former U.S. Counterintelligence Agent Charged With Revealing Classified Information to Iran

A former US Air Force counterintelligence specialist who defected to Iran has been charged with revealing classified information as well as research about her former colleagues to representatives of the Tehran government, prosecutors said Wednesday.

The Justice Department has announced an indictment against Monica Elfriede Witt, who defected to Iran in 2013 and is now at-large.

The indictment referred to the other four as "cyber conspirators" and said they planned to deploy malware to provide covert access to the targets' computers and networks.

Now the Treasury claims the conferences were also an intelligence gathering and recruiting ground for Iran's elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

They also remain at large; arrest warrants have been issued for them.

"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.

On August 28, 2013, she finally defected to Tehran, where she took the name Fatemah Zahra and, according to the indictment, began disclosing classified information to Iranian officials, including the identity of a covert United States operative.

She attended the same conference the following year and was hired by an unnamed individual to assist in the filming of an anti-American propaganda commercial.

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

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A Farsi language specialist, she was deployed to the Gulf area several times on signals intelligence missions, according to the indictment, and had top security clearance giving her access to the identities of clandestine USA agents and informants in the field.

Shortly before Witt's defection, the Federal Bureau of Investigation circulated a missing persons poster in an attempt to track her down. During her time working for the government, Witt had access to "classified information, including details of ongoing counterintelligence operations, true names of sources, and the identities of USA agents involved in the recruitment of those sources", according to the indictment. That group has been designated by the USA government as promoting terrorism.

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.

Iranian hackers then used that information to target those individuals with cyberattacks, the Justice Department said.

"I just hope I have better luck with Russian Federation at this point", Witt wrote her Iranian-American contact in July.

Iranian nationals Mojtaba Masoumpour, Behzad Mesri, Hossein Parvar and Mohamad Paryar were charged with computer intrusion and aggravated identity theft.

Later that year she worked with Individual A to make a video critical of the United States, and the two continued to communicate. She continued to serve as an intelligence officer until 2010.

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.

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