Business Standard

US charges former Air Force officer with spying for Iran

IANS  |  Washington 

The US has charged a former with spying for in an operation that targeted her fellow officers, according to an unsealed in a federal court.

Monica Witt, who was also a former counterintelligence for the Office of Special Investigations, defected to in 2013, according to the on Wednesday. She remains at large, reported.

The (FBI) says that Witt, 39, was last seen in in July 2013.

According to the Department of Justice, Witt was targeted and recruited by and after she defected, she allegedly revealed to the existence of a "highly classified intelligence collection programme" and the identify of a officer, "thereby risking the life of this individual".

Witt is accused of sharing the secrets, including the name of agents and specifics of operations, with Iran as early as January 2012. In a charging document, investigators said she was deployed by the US to locations in the to conduct classified counterintelligence operations.

Four Iranian citizens were also charged with attempting to install software on computers belonging to Witt's colleagues.

"It is a sad day for when one of its citizens betrays our country," said.

Prosecutors said that Witt had been granted the highest level of US security clearance and worked in the from 1997 to 2008.

The also sanctioned two Iranian companies - and Net Peygard - for their role in the plot.

Officials say that she sent a message to her Iranian contact in 2012 saying: "I loved the work, and I am endeavouring to put the training I received to good use instead of evil. Thanks for giving me the opportunity."

Witt, according to investigators, was recruited after attending two conferences hosted by New Horizon Organization, which was working on behalf of the to collect intelligence on attendees.

The FBI had earlier stated in its missing persons poster that Witt was working as an English in either or Tajikistan, and had lived overseas for more than a year before vanishing.

While in Iran, she allegedly converted to Islam during a TV segment after identifying herself as a US veteran and delivered several broadcasts in which she criticized the US.



(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, February 14 2019. 12:52 IST