DOJ charges former US Air Force officer with spying for Iran

Prosecutors have brought charges against a former Air Force officer for allegedly spying for Iran, the Justice Department confirmed Wednesday.

Monica Witt, a former Air Force counter-intelligence officer, is accused of defecting to Iran in 2013, after leaving the military in 2008 after more than a decade’s service and later working as a defense contractor.

Prosecutors said the officer, who had the highest level of top secret clearance, disclosed the details of a highly classified intelligence-gathering program and the true identity of a U.S. intelligence officer to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, which conducts the country’s cyber-operation, after she stopped working for the U.S. government.

Witt, a former Texas resident, first traveled to Iran in 2012 to attend a conference, which is where prosecutors allege she was recruited. The former officer is still believed to be in Iran.

Jay Tabb, FBI executive assistant director for national security, said the indictments follow “years of investigative work,” adding that her alleged actions “could cause serious damage to national security.”

Four other Iranian nationals working for the Revolutionary Guard were also charged by U.S. prosecutors with cyber-offenses relating to targeting U.S. government agents who once worked with Witt. Prosecutors said the “skilled cyber actors” targeted Witt’s former colleagues with malware, which allowed the hackers to spy on the victims’ webcams and keystrokes.

The government also issued sanctions “against malicious Iranian cyber actors and covert operations that have targeted Americans at home and overseas as part of our ongoing efforts to counter the Iranian regime’s cyber attacks,” said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. The sanctioned company, New Horizon, is accused of providing financial and technical support to the Revolutionary Guard, including specifically attempting to install malware to compromise the computers of U.S. personnel.

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