A former Air Force counterintelligence agent has been indicted by a grand jury on espionage charges after she defected to Iran to work on behalf of its intelligence services, Department of Justice officials announced Wednesday.
Monica Elfriede Witt provided the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), a branch of the country’s armed forces, with information related to her work on a secret Pentagon program, according to the indictment released publicly Wednesday.
In August 2013, Witt reached out to an individual with ties to Iranian intelligence offering her services. Weeks later, she moved to Iran and began compiling the personal information of her former colleagues into “target packages,” which the IRGC used to target American intelligence agents.
Witt, 39, served in the Air Force from 1997 to 2008, spending some of that time doing counterintelligence work in the Middle East, before moving to the private sector to work as a contractor. During her time working for the government, Witt had access to “classified information, including details of ongoing counterintelligence operations, true names of sources, and the identities of U.S. agents involved in the recruitment of those sources,” according to the indictment.
The publication of the indictment coincided with the Treasury Department’s announcing a new series of cyber-security related sanctions on a number of Iranian individuals and entities, including the IRGC, which engages in “efforts to recruit and collect intelligence from foreign attendees [of various conferences], including U.S. persons, and four associated individuals,” according to the a release announcing the sanctions.
“Treasury is taking action against malicious Iranian cyber actors and covert operations that have targeted Americans at home and overseas as part of our ongoing efforts to counter the Iranian regime’s cyber attacks,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement. “Treasury is sanctioning New Horizon Organization for its support to the IRGC-QF.”
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