Former Air Force Intel Agent Indicted for Sharing Secrets with Iran

Media playback is unsupported on your device                  Media caption Iranians braved the snow in Tehran to mark their country's 1979 Islamic Revolution

Media playback is unsupported on your device Media caption Iranians braved the snow in Tehran to mark their country's 1979 Islamic Revolution

According to charges unsealed on Wednesday by the justice department on Wednesday she defected to Iran in August 2013, taking with her details of U.S. counter-intelligence agents she had worked with, who were then targeted by Iranian hackers, four of whom are named in the indictment and charged alongside Witt.

The indictment said Monica Witt exposed a US agent and helped Iran's Revolutionary Guards develop cybertargets in the USA military after defecting to Iran in 2013.

They are said to be charged with using malware, phishing attacks and false identities, including one called Bella Wood on Facebook, who successfully friended one of the United States agents while they were deployed as a military intelligence officer in Kabul.

Witt herself was recruited by Iran after attending two global conferences organized by New Horizon, U.S. officials said.

Washington also charged four Iranian nationals who it said were involved in the cyberattacks.

"With good reason", said Assistant Attorney General John Demers, the head of the Justice Department's national security division.

After moving to Iran and converting to Islam, prosecutors claim Witt was housed by the Iranian government and provided with a computer, which she used to compile "target packages" containing information for her new employers on American military and intelligence personnel.

On August 28, 2013, she finally defected to Tehran, where she took the name Fatemah Zahra and, according to the indictment, began disclosing classified information to Iranian officials, including the identity of a covert USA operative. Throughout her tenure with the Air Force, she maintained "high-level" security clearances and even deployed to the Middle East to participate in counter intelligence operations.

Witt returned to the conference a year later, and began assisting Iranian intelligence services.

They declined to say to what extent these disclosures compromised US intelligence operations targeting Iran. "Thanks for giving me the opportunity", according to the indictment.

The indictment says Witt was part of the Air Force until 2008 and then worked as a contractor for the Defence Department for two years.

Shortly before Witt's defection, the Federal Bureau of Investigation circulated a missing persons poster in an attempt to track her down.

The US also indicted four Iranians working for the Revolutionary Guard who, using information Witt provided them, targeted her former colleagues in US intelligence with malware and phishing scams in hopes of accessing their computer networks.

"She chose not to heed our warning that travel to Iran could potentially make her susceptible to recruitment", Tabb said.

The highest court of the United Nations rejected a US claim that it did not have the jurisdiction to rule on parts of the case, paving the way for the trial to continue. -Iranian citizen who is identified as "Individual A" in the indictment hired Witt to be her assistant on an anti-American propaganda film. The four men were identified as Mojtaba Masoumpour, Behzad Mesri, Hossein Parvar and Mohamad Paryar. She was a Defense Department contractor at the time.

Extremely rare, elusive black leopard caught on camera in Kenya
NASA’s Opportunity rover dies on Mars