Published: Wed, February 13, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Ex-US intelligence officer charged in Iran espionage case

Ex-US intelligence officer charged in Iran espionage case

"Following her defection to Iran in 2013, she is alleged to have revealed to the Iranian government the existence of a highly classified intelligence collection program and the true identity of a USA intelligence officer, thereby risking the life of this individual". -Iranian citizen who is identified as "Individual A" in the indictment hired Witt to be her assistant on an anti-American propaganda film.

Witt first traveled to a "Hollywoodism" conference in 2012, when she appeared in Iranian television videos in which she identified herself as a former USA service member with.

After leaving the Air Force, she worked as a defense and intelligence contractor, but by 2012 her politics had begun to turn. She returned to Iran in 2013 and was provided housing and computer equipment by Iranian officials.

Besides charges and an arrest warrant issued in the name of the former USAF service member, the DOJ also indicted four Iranian hackers who supposedly carried out the cyber-attacks acting on information provided by Witt. 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.

After Witt returned to the U.S., Federal Bureau of Investigation agents conducted a defensive briefing with her to warn her that she might be the target of recruitment by Iranian security services. She continued to serve as an intelligence officer until 2010.

However, in 2012, she traveled to Iran to attend the Iranian New Horizon Organization's "Hollywoodism" conference, aimed specifically at criticizing and condemning American foreign policy.

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On the conference's opening day, Mr Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani gave a speech in which he called for regime change in Iran.

The hackers, using imposter Facebook personas, then targeted those same officials and were even able at one point to join a private Facebook group composed primarily of retired government workers, the indictment says.

According to the FBI, Ms Witt was last seen in southwest Asia in July 2013. "I am endeavoring to put the training I received to good use instead of evil", she told that person in an email. "Thanks for giving me the opportunity", according to the indictment.

In June 2013, she wrote Individual A, "If all else fails, I just may go public with a program and do like Snowden" with a smiley face - a reference to National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden.

Provided with housing and computer equipment by the Iranian government, Witt tracked down US counterintelligence agents she used to work with on Facebook, the indictment said, and disclosed the classified identity of at least one of those agents, according to the charges. That's a reference to Edward Snowden, a former NSA contractor who leaked classified USA information.

Officials would not elaborate on why the indictment was brought six years after her detection, except to say that they had to move classified intelligence into an unclassified format to be used in a pending criminal proceeding.

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