US charges ex-Air Force intel agent for espionage

Washington: The US Justice Department on Wednesday (local time) charged a former Air Force counter-intelligence officer, for allegedly spying for the Iranian government.

A federal grand jury here indicted Monica Elfriede Witt on charges of disclosing the code name and classified mission of a US military special access program to the Iranian government, Voice of America reported.

Witt defected to Iran around six years ago.

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Hailing from Texas, the 39-year-old former intel agent served in the US Air Force from 1997 to 2008 and worked as a contractor from 2008 to 2010.

A high-ranking official in the US Air Force stated that Witt started working for the Iranian government after she left the military.

Her actions are “a betrayal of our nation’s security, our military and the American people,” said Terry Phillips, a special agent in the Air Force office of special investigations during a press call with reporters.

Furthermore, four Iranian nationals were indicted and face charges of conspiracy, computer intrusions and identity theft for targetting Witt’s former co-workers in 2014 and 2015. The four Iranians were — Mojtaba Masoumpour, Behzad Mesri, Hossein Parvar and Mohamad Paryar.

Prosecutors said that the indicted Iranians working on behalf of the country’s Revolutionary Guard Corps were using fake social media accounts and planned to deploy malware in order to gain access to the targets’ computers and networks.

“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,” Voice of America quoted John Demers, assistant attorney general for national security as saying.

“When our intelligence professionals are targeted or betrayed, the National Security Division will relentlessly pursue justice against the wrong-doers,” he added.


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