Former US Air Force intelligence specialist Monica Witt has been indicted on seven counts for delivering national defence information to the government of Iran, conspiracy and attempt to commit computer intrusions and aggravated identity theft, according to an indictment filed in US court on Wednesday.
Monica Witt allegedly turned over classified information about USA intelligence officers after defecting to Iran in 2013, according to a newly unsealed indictment.
"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 wrote in statement Wednesday. According to authorities, she started working on behalf of Tehran by disclosing classified information and compiling research on US intelligence personnel she previously worked with.
Four Iranian nationals were named in the same indictment with Witt.
The indictment suggests that Witt defected for ideological motives, and it quotes emails between Witt and an Iranian agent, referred to as Individual A, prior to her defection.
Born and raised in Texas, Witt entered on duty for the Air Force from 1997 to 2008 and worked as a contractor from 2008 to 2010. Iran's nuclear program was the target of the U.S.
The US Treasury Department also announced sanctions against an Iranian company accused of organizing conferences that served as a platform to recruit Witt, and against another Iranian company suspected of having participated in the cyberattacks.
Once in Tehran, Iranian authorities provided her with housing and computer equipment, the indictment alleges, and she began work on behalf of Iran. "I am endeavoring to put the training I received to good use instead of evil", she told that person in an email. On Feb. 13, 2019, the DOJ announced an indictment against Witt, who defected to Iran in 2013 and is now at-large.
She faced resistance for months.
According to an undated Federal Bureau of Investigation missing persons declaration regarding Witt, she had not been in contact with anyone since 2013. "I am starting to get frustrated at the level of Iranian suspicion".
She successfully defected in August 2013, after providing a resume and "conversion narrative" to her contact. "I'm signing off and heading out!" She is now at-large, along with four Iranian hackers who, prosecutors say, used the information she provided to target her former colleagues in the US intelligence community. The hackers managed to gain access to a Facebook group of US government agents. The four men were identified as Mojtaba Masoumpour, Behzad Mesri, Hossein Parvar and Mohamad Paryar.
Iran and the United States are longtime cyber-antagonists.