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

Former US air force officer charged with spying for Iran

Former US air force officer charged with spying for Iran

Witt served in the US Air Force from 1997 to 2008, becoming an agent in the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, its counterintelligence unit.

The US Justice Department on Wednesday charged former US Air Force intelligence official Monica Witt with "conspiracy to deliver and delivering national defense information to representatives of the Iranian government".

The former Air Force counterintelligence agent charged with spying for Iran once condemned the United States for not tolerating her choice to convert to Islam.

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. 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. The next year, she went to another Iranian conference and soon arranged to defect, according to the indictment.

Mesri, Masampour and Parvar also face sanctions for their involvement with Net Peygard, according to the U.S. Treasury Department.

But later that year, she helped an unnamed Iranian-American official produce an anti-American propaganda film.

Jay Tabb, the FBI's executive assistant director for national security, said Witt was ideologically driven.

"New Horizon hosts worldwide conferences that have provided Iranian intelligence officers a platform to recruit and collect damaging information from attendees, while propagating anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial", Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin said. "Today's announcement also highlights our commitment to vigorously pursue those who threaten US security through state-sponsored hacking campaigns". In one publication, she chastised the USA military as a "boys' club" in which female servicemembers suffer from pervasive sexual harassment.

"Ms Witt was recruited by Iran as part of a program that targets former intelligence officers and others who have held security clearances. Thanks for giving me the opportunity", according to the indictment.

Messages quoted in an indictment unsealed yesterday showed Witt saying that she wanted to "put the training I received to good use instead of evil" around the time of her defection.

"Our intelligence professionals swear an oath to protect our country, and we trust them to uphold their oath".

"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. "But every great while, one of these trusted people fails us". She possessed high-level security clearances and conducted several classified counterintelligence missions overseas.

At least one of those New Horizon conferences was organised by Iranian-American journalist Marzieh Hashemi, who was detained by U.S. officials in January as a material witness in a federal criminal case, according to the Tehran Times.

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