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Ex-U.S. intelligence official accused of giving classified info to Iran

A former U.S. Air Pressure counterintelligence specialist who defected to Iran regardless of warnings from the FBI has been charged with revealing labeled data to the Tehran authorities, together with the code title and secret venture of a Pentagon program, prosecutors stated Wednesday.

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The Justice Division additionally accused Monica Elfriede Witt, 39, of betraying former colleagues within the U.S. intelligence neighborhood by means of feeding information about their non-public lives to Iran. 4 hackers related to the Iranian authorities, charged in the similar indictment, used that data to focus on the intelligence staff on-line, prosecutors stated.

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Witt have been at the FBI’s radar no less than a yr earlier than she defected after she attended an Iranian convention and seemed in anti-American movies. She was once warned about her actions, however reassured brokers that she would now not supply delicate details about her paintings if she returned to Iran, prosecutors say. She was once now not arrested on the time.

“As soon as a holder of a best secret safety clearance, Monica Witt actively sought alternatives to undermine the USA and reinforce the govt of Iran — a rustic which poses a significant risk to our nationwide safety,” stated FBI government assistant director Jay Tabb, the bureau’s best nationwide safety authentic.

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ex u s intelligence official accused of giving classified info to iran - Ex-U.S. intelligence official accused of giving classified info to Iran

Tabb stated “she equipped data that would purpose severe harm to nationwide safety,” regardless that he didn’t supply specifics.

Witt stays at huge in Iran, as do the 4 hackers, who prosecutors say have been performing on behalf of the government-linked Islamic Innovative Guard Corps. That staff, a department of Iran’s military, has been designated by means of the U.S. authorities as terrorism supporter.

This image provided by the FBI shows the wanted poster for Monica Elfriede Witt.

This symbol equipped by means of the FBI displays the sought after poster for Monica Elfriede Witt.

(FBI by means of AP)

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The indictment was once unsealed the similar week as Iran celebrated the 40th anniversary of its Islamic Revolution and because the nation denounced a Center East safety convention co-hosted by means of the U.S. and Poland. Officers stated the indictment’s timing was once unconnected to the assembly.

Witt, a Texas local, served within the Air Pressure between 1997 and 2008, the place she was once skilled within the Farsi language and was once deployed in another country on labeled counterintelligence missions, together with to the Center East. She then discovered paintings as a Protection Division contractor.

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She defected to Iran in 2013 after being invited to 2 all-expense-paid meetings within the nation that the Justice Division says promoted anti-Western propaganda and condemned American ethical requirements. She was once a Protection Division contractor on the time.

The Treasury Division on Wednesday sanctioned the New Horizon Group, which subsidized the meetings Witt attended and hosts occasions that American officers say advertise Holocaust denial, conspiracy theories and function a platform for Iranian intelligence recruitment.

Witt first travelled to a “Hollywoodism” convention in 2012, when she seemed in Iranian tv movies through which she recognized herself as a former U.S. provider member with opposed perspectives towards The united states. She was once warned by means of FBI brokers that she was once a possible recruitment goal.

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“She selected to not heed our caution that shuttle to Iran may doubtlessly make her liable to recruitment,” Tabb stated. “She persisted to shuttle.”

She attended the similar convention the next yr and was once employed by means of an unnamed particular person who professed ties to high-level Iranian officers to lend a hand within the filming of an anti-American propaganda industrial.

Given unfastened housing and pc apparatus, she went to paintings for the Iranians, supplying details about a labeled Protection Division program and assembling into “goal programs” analysis she performed into the circle of relatives lives, places and missions of former colleagues, the indictment stated.

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The accused hackers exploited that analysis, contacting Witt’s former colleagues thru imposter Fb and electronic mail accounts. Their function was once to urge the objectives to click on on hyperlinks and attachments containing malicious instrument that, if opened, may compromise their pc and networks.

The indictment comprises snippets of discussion between Witt and the one that employed her, recognized best as Person A.

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In 2012, for example, the individual wrote her, “must i thank the sec of protection…u have been smartly skilled. Witt spoke back with a smiley emoticon, “LOL thank the sec of protection? For me? Smartly, I cherished the paintings, and I’m endeavoring to place the educational I won to excellent use as an alternative of evil. ?? Thank you for giving me the chance,” consistent with the indictment.

The usage of a typed smiley-face, she later informed the similar particular person, “If all else fails, I simply would possibly cross public with a program and do like Snowden.” That’s a connection with Edward Snowden, a former NSA contractor who leaked labeled U.S. data.

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“Our intelligence pros swear an oath to give protection to our nation, and we agree with them to uphold their oath. With excellent explanation why,” stated Assistant Lawyer Basic John Demers, the top of the Justice Division’s nationwide safety department. “However each nice whilst, this sort of relied on other people fails us.”

Officers would now not elaborate on why the indictment was once introduced six years after her detection, except for to mention they needed to transfer labeled intelligence into an unclassified structure for use in a legal case.

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Justice Division officers wouldn’t say whether or not Witt’s prosecution was once hooked up to an American-born Iranian tv anchorwoman who was once just lately launched after being detained by means of the FBI as a subject material witness in an undisclosed U.S. case.

Marzieh Hashemi works for the Press TV community’s English-language provider. She has now not been charged with any crimes.

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Federal regulation permits judges to reserve witnesses to be detained if the govt can turn out their testimony has bizarre price for a legal case and that they’d be a flight chance and not likely to reply to a subpoena. The statute normally calls for the ones witnesses to be launched after they’re deposed.

Related Press creator Jamie Stengle in Dallas and AP researcher Rhonda Shafner in New York contributed to this file.


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