Monica Witt, former Air Force counterintelligence specialist, accused of spying for Iran

Monica Witt 39 a former U.S. Air Force officer indicted for aiding Iran is seen in this FBI

Monica Witt 39 a former U.S. Air Force officer indicted for aiding Iran is seen in this FBI

"Our intelligence professionals swear an oath to protect our country, and we trust them to uphold their oath", said Assistant Attorney General John Demers, who leads the Justice Department's National Security Division.

USA authorities on Wednesday charged former Air Force intelligence officer Monica Witt with helping Iran launch a cyber-spying operation that targeted her former colleagues after she defected from the United States.

Monica Witt, aged 39, worked as a cryptologist and a counter-intelligence investigator for the USA air force for more than 10 years before becoming an intelligence analyst for the defence contractor Booz Allen Hamilton in 2008 and doing other private sector work.

The Department of Justice charged former U.S. Air Force special agent and counterintelligence specialist Monica Witt with espionage, accusing her of defecting to Iran in 2013 and revealing highly-classified U.S. intelligence to the government in Tehran. All four remain at large.

"From in or around January 2012 to in or around May 2015, in Iran, and elsewhere outside the jurisdiction of any particular State or district, defendant Monica Elfriede Witt did knowingly and unlawfully combine, confederate, and agree with other persons...to knowingly and unlawfully communicate, deliver, and transmit to a foreign government, specifically Iran, and to that foreign government's representatives, officers, and agents, directly and indirectly, documents and information relating to the national defence of the United States", the indictment said.

"She chose to turn against the United States and shift her loyalty to Iran", said Jay Tabb, the FBI's executive assistant director for national security.

That year she travelled to Iran to attend an anti-America conference sponsored by the Revolutionary Guard-related New Horizon Organization.

They declined to say to what extent these disclosures compromised USA intelligence operations targeting Iran.

Once in Tehran, Iranian authorities provided her with housing and computer equipment, the indictment alleges, and she began work on behalf of Iran.

According to an undated Federal Bureau of Investigation missing persons declaration regarding Witt, she had not been in contact with anyone since 2013. Iran's nuclear program was the target of the U.S. For me? Well, I loved the work, and I am endeavouring to put the training I received to good use instead of evil.

Mesri, Masampour and Parvar also face sanctions for their involvement with Net Peygard, according to the U.S. Treasury Department.

Jay Tabb, the FBI's executive assistant director for national security, said investigators believe Witt shared information that "could cause serious damage to national security", though he declined to provide specific details of the operations she allegedly disclosed.

What's the state of US-Iran relations?

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