The US Justice Department charged a former US air force intelligence official Wednesday with spying for Iran, saying she exposed a fellow US agent and helped the Revolutionary Guard target her former colleagues for cyber attacks.
In a grand jury indictment unsealed Wednesday, prosecutors said Witt, 39, provided the Iranian government information about a classified Defense Department program and helped Tehran's intelligence services target her former colleagues in the US intelligence community.
She revealed to the Iranians a "highly classified intelligence collection program" as well as the true identity of a United States intelligence officer, Demers said.
"In one such instance, the Cyber Conspirators", as the four Iranians are called, "created a Facebook account that purported to belong to a [intelligence community] employee and former colleague of Witt, and which utilized legitimate information and photos from the USIC employee's actual Facebook account", the Justice Department said. The next year, she went to another Iranian conference and soon arranged to defect, according to the indictment. She continued to serve as an intelligence officer until 2010.
In 2013, Witt traveled to Iran for that year's "Holywoodism" conference.
A former member of USA counterintelligence worked for years with the Iranian government to undermine US national security, according to an indictment unsealed today. The hackers managed to gain access to a Facebook group of US government agents. US officials believe she is still in Iran. From there, her task was to use social media to search for other American counterintelligence officials, and produce "target packages" on them for Iran.
Specifically, between January and May 2015, the Cyber Conspirators, using fictitious and imposter accounts, attempted to trick their targets into clicking links or opening files that would allow the conspirators to deploy malware on the target's computer.
Witt replied: "LOL thank the sec of defence?"
She wrote Individual A that she wanted to put her Air Force training "to good use instead of evil".
A Farsi language specialist, she was deployed to the Gulf area several times on signals intelligence missions, according to the indictment, and had top security clearance giving her access to the identities of clandestine United States agents and informants in the field.
"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, announcing the indictment.
Officials would not elaborate on why the indictment was brought six years after her detection, except to say that they had to move classified intelligence into an unclassified format to be used in a pending criminal proceeding. The New York Timesreports she was privy to the real names of both intelligence assets and the USA officials who helped recruit them.
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