The FBI has issued an arrest warrant for a former U.S. Air Force officer from Texas, who they say worked with Iranian hackers and exposed classified intelligence secrets of the Department of Defense.
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.
The indictment also alleges that Witt disclosed the code name and classified mission of a USA defense department Special Access Program. Prosecutors say they targeted former colleagues of Witt's in the intelligence community.
The announcement comes as the U.S. pressures allies to cut Iran off from the global community by severing economic, financial and diplomatic ties.
"With good reason", said Assistant Attorney General John Demers, the head of the Justice Department's national security division. "But every great while, one of these trusted people fails us".
During that time, she was granted high-level security clearances, learned Farsi at a US military language school, and was deployed overseas for counterintelligence missions in the Middle East. "Thanks for giving me the opportunity". After leaving the armed forces, she worked as a Defense Department contractor.
Later that year she worked with Individual A to make a video critical of the United States, and the two continued to communicate.
The indictment includes snippets of dialogue between Witt and the person who recruited her her, identified only as Individual 1.
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 Justice Department said the information threatened other agents in the US intelligence community, a federation of 16 agencies.
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From December 2014 to May 2015, at least four Iranian nationals created fake Facebook accounts to target Witt's former co-workers, the U.S. alleges.
That summer, a dual U.S.
Witt returned to the conference a year later, and began assisting Iranian intelligence services. She met with Revolutionary Guards representatives and declared her desire to immigrate to Iran, according to the indictment. She successfully defected in August 2013. Federal Bureau of Investigation officials said Wednesday they believe Witt's motives were ideological.
An Iranian communications company was also sanctioned for allegedly planting malware on U.S. intelligence agents' computers.
They declined to say to what extent these disclosures compromised USA intelligence operations targeting Iran.
In the few weeks before her defection, Witt is alleged to have conducted searches on Facebook for the names of former fellow counter-intelligence agents, and the spouse of one of them.
Demers further explained, "Four Iranian cyber hackers are also charged with various computer crimes targeting members of the USA intelligence community who were Ms. Witt's former colleagues".
The most notable of the four Iranian hackers is Behzad Mesri, who USA 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. She is believed to be in Iran, officials said. -Israeli computer sabotage weapon Stuxnet, for example, and Iran has been blamed for a number of cyberattacks against the USA and its allies, including Saudi Arabia.