Ex-Air Force counterintelligence agent Monica Elfriede Witt is charged with spying for Iran’s Revolutionary Guard six years after she vanished in central Asia
Witt, 39, defected to Iran six years ago – last believed to be in either Afghanistan or Tajikistan in July 2013, where she was working as an English teacher
She is charged with revealing classified information, spying on former colleagues between 2013-2014 when Iran was in nuclear talks with the US Govt
charged along with four ‘cyber co-conspirators’ in Iran, in scheme to deploy malware and spearfishing campaigns ‘that would provide them covert access to the targets’ computers and networks’
Set up fake Facebook account to mimic account of one former colleague, to planted trojans thato mimic their key strokes
Witt’s MO was tricking ‘several’ former colleagues to accept ‘friend’ requests from the fake account
She has been charged with ‘revealing to the Iranian regime a highly classified intelligence program and the identity of a U.S. Intelligence Officer’
The former spy and her four indicted co-conspirators remain at large
Federal prosecutors have charged a former U.S. Air Force counterintelligence specialist with collaborating with Iran’s Revolutionary Guard forces to spy on her former American colleagues.
Monica Elfriede Witt, 39, defected to Iran in 2013, and brought with information about U.S. spy techniques and the people who took part in them.
She is charged with conspiring to deliver as well as delivering national defense information to representatives of the Iranian government, a long-time adversary of Washington.
Along with four ‘cyber co-conspirators’ in Iran, she sought to deploy malware and spearfishing campaigns ‘that would provide them covert access to the targets’ computers and networks,’ according to prosecutors.
Both Witt [photo left], and her four indicted co-conspirators remain at large.
In one brash attempt to unearth U.S. government information, between January and May 2015, the conspirators used fake and impostor accounts in an attempt ‘to trick their targets into clicking links or opening files that would allow the conspirators to deploy malware on the target’s computer,’ according to the indictment.
‘In one such instance, the Cyber Conspirators created a Facebook account that purported to belong to a USIC employee and former colleague of Witt, and which utilized legitimate information and photos from the USIC employee’s actual Facebook account,’ according to the government.
The ploy worked. The fabricated account ’caused several of Witt’s former colleagues to accept ‘friend’ requests’ unwittingly.
An FBI ‘missing person’ notice released Wednesday says she was last believed to be in either Afghanistan or Tajikistan in July 2013, where she was working as an English teacher.
The indictment says the four Iranians were acting on behalf of the government-linked Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps.
‘It is a sad day for American when one of its citizens betrays our country,’ said Assistant Attorney General John Demers, the head of the Justice Department’s national security division.
The timing of her activity, 2013 and 2014, appears to indicate she conducted her spying while secret talks were underway for what became the Iran nuclear deal, which was reached in 2014 under the Obama administration.
Her actions were a ‘violation of the law, her solemn oath to protect and defend our country, and the bounds of human decency,’ he said.
Jay Tabb, the FBI’s top national security official, said the FBI had warned Witt before her defection that she was a vulnerable target for recruitment by Iranian intelligence but that Witt had ignored those warnings.
‘Monica Witt is charged with revealing to the Iranian regime a highly classified intelligence program and the identity of a U.S. Intelligence Officer, all in violation of the law, her solemn oath to protect and defend our country, and the bounds of human decency,’ said Demers in a statement sent out by the Justice Department.
‘Four Iranian cyber hackers are also charged with various computer crimes targeting members of the U.S. intelligence community who were Witt’s former colleagues.
Monica Witt [photo, circa 2012], is charged with revealing to the Iranian regime a highly classified intelligence program and the identity of a U.S. Intelligence Officer and planting malware among her colleagues
He added: ‘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. When our intelligence professionals are targeted or betrayed, the National Security Division will relentlessly pursue justice against the wrong-doers.’
An online Iraq Veterans Against the War page features a Monica Witt who says she worked with Air Force Office of Special Investigations. It says she provided support in Thumrait, Oman, and Irbil, Iraq.
‘I served in the Air Force for 10 years and participated in both the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars. After viewing so much corruption and the damage we were doing both to Iraq/Afghanistan and to the perception of the U.S., I decided I needed to do as much as I could to help rectify the situation,’ according to the page.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced that his agency is imposing sanctions on New Horizon, an anti-zionist organization that hosted Witt at a conference.
‘New Horizon hosts international conferences that have provided Iranian intelligence officers a platform to recruit and collect damaging information from attendees, while propagating anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial,’ said Mnuchin. ‘We are also sanctioning an Iran-based company that has attempted to install malware to compromise the computers of U.S. personnel.’