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US says ex-intel official defected to Iran, revealed secrets

WASHINGTON - A former US Air Force counterintelligence specialist who defected to Iran has been charged with revealing categorised information to the Tehran authorities, together with the code title and secret challenge of a Pentagon program.

The justice department additionally accused Monica Elfriede Witt, 39, of betraying former colleagues in the US intelligence neighborhood by way of feeding information about their personal and professional lives to Iran. Four hackers related to the Iranian authorities, charged in the similar indictment, used that information to focus on the intelligence employees on-line, prosecutors mentioned

The 4 Iranians were performing on behalf of the government-linked Iranian Revolutionary Guard, prosecutors mentioned. They additionally remain at huge; arrest warrants had been issued for them.

Prosecutors mentioned Witt, who left the Air Force in 2008 and later was a defense department contractor, disclosed to Iran the code title and categorised challenge of a Pentagon particular get right of entry to program. No additional main points were in an instant launched. She additionally researched private details about colleagues she had labored with and created what the govt. says were "target packages" for use by way of the Iranian authorities.

They declined to say to what extent those disclosures compromised US intelligence operations targeting Iran.

The indictment prompt that Iran had reached out to her a minimum of as far back as 2012. That yr, an unidentified particular person contacted her and remarked that she used to be well-trained. It mentioned she answered: "Well, I loved the work, and I am endeavoring to put the training I received to good use instead of evil. Thanks for giving me the opportunity," in line with the indictment.

Using a typed smiley-face, she later informed the similar, unnamed particular person, "If all else fails, I just may go public with a program and do like Snowden." That's a connection with Edward Snowden, a former NSA contractor who leaked categorised US information.

Witt used to be operating as a contractor in 2012 when she used to be offered an all-expenses-paid invitation to a "Hollywoodism" convention that used to be sponsored by way of the Iranian authorities and that promoted anti-Western propaganda, in line with the justice department. She returned to the similar convention the following yr, when she used to be given housing and pc apparatus and began operating for the Iranian authorities

"Our intelligence professionals swear an oath to protect our country, and we trust them to uphold their oath. With good reason," mentioned assistant attorney basic John Demers, the head of the justice department's nationwide security division. "But every great while, one of these trusted people fails us."

Jay Tabb, the FBI's top nationwide security reputable, mentioned the FBI had warned Witt before her defection that she used to be a susceptible target for recruitment by way of Iranian intelligence but that Witt had disregarded the ones warnings.

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