U.S. Accuses Former Air Force Officer Of Spying For Iran

U.S. Accuses Former Air Force Officer Of Spying For Iran

U.S. Accuses Former Air Force Officer Of Spying For Iran

The US Department of Justice unsealed today espionage-related charges against a former US Air Force service member who defected to Iran and helped the country's hackers target her former Air Force colleagues.

The Justice Department said Tuesday that Witt, who remains at large, held high-level security clearances before she defected to Iran in 2013.

She revealed to the Iranians a "highly classified intelligence collection program" as well as the true identity of a USA intelligence officer, Demers said.

Also charged are four Iranian hackers. She continued to serve as an intelligence officer until 2010.

In 2012, Witt was offered an all-expenses-paid trip to attend a conference hosted by the New Horizon Organization in Iran called "Hollywoodism".

"She chose not to heed our warning that travel to Iran could potentially make her susceptible to recruitment", Tabb said. In one publication, she chastised the US military as a "boys' club" in which female servicemembers suffer from pervasive sexual harassment.

According to the New York Times, officials say Witt submitted details of her background to an operative with ties to Iranian intelligence in August 2013 and moved to Iran the same month.

The Justice Department alleged she shared with Iran packages of information about her former colleagues so they could be targeted, as well as the code name and mission of a Defence Department Special Access Programme, which was highly classified.

In a charging document, investigators say the 39-year-old was deployed by the U.S. to locations in the Middle East to conduct classified counterintelligence operations.

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Washington also charged four Iranian nationals who it said were involved in the cyberattacks.

Tabb said investigators believe Witt's motive was "ideological", and the indictment against her alleges that, before she defected, she appeared in videos that she knew would be broadcast by Iranian media outlets and "made statements that were critical of the U.S. government".

After leaving the Air Force, she worked as a defense contractor, but by 2012 her politics had turned. The hackers managed to gain access to a Facebook group of US government agents. -Iranian citizen who is identified as "Individual A" in the indictment hired Witt to be her assistant on an anti-American propaganda film.

She wrote Individual A that she wanted to put her Air Force training "to good use instead of evil".

At that point, she made contact with an Iranian agent who helped her settle in Iran.

Yahoo News reports that she wrote a message claiming that she might "do like [Edward] Snowden", the former USA intelligence contractor who leaked thousands of highly-classified documents about the National Security Agency in 2013 before being granted asylum in Russian Federation.

She defected to Iran in 2013 and presumably still lives there, USA officials said.

"The last known contact with her is believed to have been in June 2013", the Federal Bureau of Investigation alert said.

She also conducted online research, including on Facebook, to create information "packages" on her former colleagues in the US intelligence community.

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