Ex-US Air Force officer Monica Witt charged with spying for Iran

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Former U.S. Air Force Officer Monica Witt was charged on Wednesday by the Department of Justice with sharing government secrets with the Iranian officials.

A former US Air Force intelligence officer allegedly worked with Iranian hackers who used Facebook and e-mail to try to trick her former colleagues into downloading malware that would track their computer activity.

Witt also disclosed the code name and classified mission of an unidentified person in the Defense Department's Special Access Program, prosecutors said.

The same indictment charged four Iranians for conspiracy and aggravated identity theft, accusing them of helping Witt gather information on her former US government colleagues.

Several conferences sponsored by the New Horizon Organization have taken place in Iran and Iraq in recent years, according to U.S. officials.

"She chose not to heed our warning that travel to Iran could potentially make her susceptible to recruitment", Tabb said. Iran's nuclear program was the target of the U.S.

Reuters also reports that the Federal Bureau of Investigation warned her that Iran's intelligence services wanted to recruit her, but she said that if she returned to Iran, she would not talk about her intelligence work.

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The U.S. Treasury said Net Peygard targeted current and former U.S. government and military personnel with a malicious cyber campaign, and it said New Horizon had organized global conferences supporting efforts by Iran's Revolutionary Guard's Quds Force to recruit and collect intelligence from foreign attendees. Throughout her tenure with the Air Force, she maintained "high-level" security clearances and even deployed to the Middle East to participate in counter intelligence operations.

They are said to be charged with using malware, phishing attacks and false identities, including one called Bella Wood on Facebook, who successfully friended one of the USA agents while they were deployed as a military intelligence officer in Kabul.

They declined to say to what extent these disclosures compromised USA intelligence operations targeting Iran.

Four Iranians who helped Witt in the cyber hack were also named in the indictment. For me? Well, I loved the work, and I am endeavouring to put the training I received to good use instead of evil.

However, one agent who friended the fake account added the hackers to a Facebook group filled with USA government agents, allowing them to gather more information, according to the indictment. That's a reference to Edward Snowden, a former NSA contractor who leaked classified US information. She was also a Defense Department contractor until 2010.

The Iranian hackers also used photos and information of another United States counterintelligence official to create a fake Facebook account for friending other agents.

In her first specialty, Witt served aboard an RC-135 Rivet Joint air reconnaissance aircraft out of Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska, focusing on Persian-Farsi language communications, according to a resume on the website Indeed that was attributed to Witt and matched much of the information in her service records. Prosecutors say they targeted at least eight former colleagues of Witt's in the intelligence community.