U.S. charges former USAF intelligence officer with spying for Iran

Former U.S. Air Force counterintelligence specialist Monica Witt was charged by a federal grand jury in an indictment unsealed Wednesday. Photo courtesy of FBI

Feb. 13 (UPI) — A former U.S. counterintelligence officer was indicted Wednesday for spying for the Iranian government, federal prosecutors said.

A federal grand jury charged Monica Elfriede Witt with conspiracy to deliver defense information to Iranian government representatives and assisting the Iranian intelligence services. The Justice Department said the information threatened other agents in the U.S. intelligence community, a federation of 16 agencies.

Witt also disclosed the code name and classified mission of an unidentified person in the Defense Department’s Special Access Program, prosecutors said.

U.S. authorities have not yet arrested Witt, who remains at large in Iran, but a warrant has been issued.

The same indictment charged four other Iranians — Mojtaba Masoumpour, Behzad Mesri, Hossein Parvar and Mohamad Paryar — with conspiracy, attempts to commit computer intrusion and aggravated identity theft. Investigators said they targeted Witt’s former co-workers.

“Monica Witt is charged with revealing to the Iranian regime a highly classified intelligence program and the identity of a U.S. Intelligence Officer,” Asst. Attorney General Demers said in a statement. “This case underscores the dangers to our intelligence professionals and the lengths our adversaries will go to identify them, expose them, target them, and, in a few rare cases, ultimately turn them against the nation they swore to protect.”

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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. They, too, have not yet been arrested.

The charges were announced hours after Iranian President Hassan Rouhani promised to resist economic and “psychological” attacks from the United States.

“The nation will once again defend its dignity and independence, and will not surrender to the enemy,” he said. “If our nation gives in to the US, then it will have to capitulate until the end; this would mean that we should abandon our country, dignity, independence and identity.”

Also Wednesday, the International Court of Justice defied the United States and ruled it has jurisdiction to consider Iran’s request to free up billions in assets frozen for past crimes attributed to Tehran, including a 1983 bombing at a U.S. Marine Corps barracks in Lebanon.

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