US Charges Former Air Force Intel Officer With Spying for Iran

US Charges Former Air Force Intel Officer With Spying for Iran

A former U.S. Air Force counterintelligence specialist who defected to Iran has been charged with providing classified information to the Islamic Republic, according to an indictment unsealed Wednesday by the Justice Department.

"Four Iranian cyberhackers are also charged with various computer crimes targeting members of the US intelligence community who were Ms. Witt's former colleagues", the indictment said.

Witt allegedly gave Iranian officials the code name and mission of a highly classified U.S. Defense Department program and the specific target involved in that intelligence operation.

A former member of USA counterintelligence worked for years with the Iranian government to undermine US national security, according to an indictment unsealed today.

The most notable of the four Iranian hackers is Behzad Mesri, who United States authorities also charged in November 2017 with hacking HBO, stealing scripts for unaired episodes of season 6 of the hit series Game Of Thrones TV show, and later attempting to extort HBO execs for $6 million.

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 04: Assistant U.S. Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers (2nd L), United States Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania Scott W. Brady (R), and FBI Deputy Assistant Director for Cyber Division Eric Welling (L) listen during a news conference to announce criminal charges on October 4, 2018 in Washington, DC. Shortly after joining the military, Witt studied Farsi at the U.S. Defense Language Institute in California before deploying overseas for four years to conduct classified missions collecting signals intelligence.

Witt defected to Iran in August 2013.

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The indictment suggests that Witt defected for ideological motives, and it quotes emails between Witt and an Iranian agent, referred to as Individual A, prior to her defection.

A Farsi language specialist, she was deployed to the Gulf area several times on signals intelligence missions, according to the indictment, and had top security clearance giving her access to the identities of clandestine U.S. agents and informants in the field. "She returned the next year, and then she began working for the Iranian government to provide information...she has been there ever since".

In July 2013, according to the indictment, Individual A told Witt that Iranian officials were suspicious of her, wondering how she managed to travel around Asia while claiming to have no money.

Mesri, Masampour and Parvar also face sanctions for their involvement with Net Peygard, according to the U.S. Treasury Department.

Also charged are four Iranian hackers. That group has been designated by the US government as promoting terrorism.

The indictment includes snippets of dialogue between Witt and the person who recruited her her, identified only as Individual 1.

The Justice Department officials would not say whether Witt's prosecution was connected to an American-born Iranian television anchorwoman who was recently released after being detained by the Federal Bureau of Investigation as a material witness in an undisclosed US case. Iran's nuclear program was the target of the U.S.

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