DOJ: She Knew US Secrets and Gave Them to Iran

Ex-Air Force counterintelligence specialist Monice Witt is charged
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 13, 2019 11:49 AM CST
She Defected From US to Iran, Is Now Accused of Spying for It
This 2013 photo released by the Department of Justice shows Monica Elfriede Witt. The Justice Department on Wednesday announced an indictment against Monica Elfriede Witt, who defected to Iran in 2013 and is currently at large.   (Department of Justice via AP)

"It is a sad day for America when one of its citizens betrays our country," said the head of the Justice Department's national security division, on what is apparently such a day. A former Air Force counterintelligence specialist who defected to Iran has been charged with revealing to Iranian government officials classified defense info that could cause "serious damage," officials said Wednesday. Monica Elfriede Witt, 39, served in the Air Force from 1997 to 2008 and then worked on classified government projects for two years after that, reports the Washington Post. The New York Times reports she was privy to the real names of both intelligence assets and the US officials who helped recruit them.

She defected in 2013 and is currently at large, and prosecutors allege she handed over the code name and mission of a secret Defense Department program. The Justice Department indictment also accuses her of helping Iran go after her former colleagues via hacking and identity theft attempts, reports the AP. Jay Tabb, the FBI's chief national security official, said that after she attended a conference in Iran, the FBI in 2012 warned her that she was a vulnerable target for recruitment by Iranian intelligence; she brushed off their concern. He said it's thought she was "idelogical[ly]" driven, and the indictment notes that she "made statements that were critical of the US government" prior to her defection. A warrant has been issued for her arrest, reports CNBC. Four Iranian nationals who remain at large are also charged in the indictment. (A Russian spy's US boyfriend was recently hit with charges.)

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