A U.S. Air Force veteran and former counterintelligence agent was charged Wednesday with spying on behalf of the Iranian government. The Department of Justice said the suspect defected to the Arab nation in 2013 and is accused of providing Tehran with highly classified information used to target her former fellow agents.
What are the details?
A grand jury indicted 39-year-old Monica Witt, who authorities believe collaborated with Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, revealed state secrets and endangered members of the intelligence community, CBS News reported.
Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Demers said in a statement, "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."
Demers further explained, "Four Iranian cyber hackers are also charged with various computer crimes targeting members of the U.S. intelligence community who were Ms. Witt's former colleagues. 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."
Witt served in the Air Force from 1997 to 2008, and was a Defense Department contractor until 2010. She possessed high-level security clearances and conducted several classified counterintelligence missions abroad.
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. Prosecutors say she appeared in multiple videos broadcast by Iranian media, identifying herself publicly as a U.S. veteran and condemning America.
The indictment shows correspondence between Witt and an unnamed co-conspirator with dual United States-Iranian citizenship, in which Witt allegedly wrote, "If all else fails, I just may go public with a program and do like Snowden" — referring to the government contractor who famously leaked NSA information to WikiLeaks.
Witt also discussed traveling to Russia and reaching out to WikiLeaks herself.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Witt stalked U.S. government agents on Facebook, creating "target packages" against them. The Iranians she worked with would then submit friend requests to the Americans using fake accounts, and send "messages with malware designed to capture a target's keystrokes and access their web camera."