Former US air force officer charged with spying for Iran

Cheryl Sanders
February 13, 2019

According to authorities, she started working on behalf of Tehran by disclosing classified information and compiling research on USA intelligence personnel she previously worked with. The indictment accuses her of assisting "Iranian intelligence services in targeting her former fellow agents in the U.S. Intelligence Community".

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

The DOJ claims Witt has been working ever since with IRGC hacking units to craft and fine-tune cyber-operations against her former Air Force colleagues, some of whom she knew personally. She returned to Iran in 2013 and was provided housing and computer equipment by Iranian officials. The connections she made at that event with dual Iranian-American citizens enabled her to defect the following year.

Investigators allege Ms Witt was recruited after attending two conferences hosted by New Horizon Organization, which was working on behalf of the Iranian National Guard's Quds Force to collect intelligence on attendees.

Witt replied: "LOL thank the sec of defence?"


The publication of the indictment coincided with the Treasury Department's announcing a new series of cyber-security related sanctions on a number of Iranian individuals and entities, including the IRGC, which engages in "efforts to recruit and collect intelligence from foreign attendees [of various conferences], including us persons, and four associated individuals", according to the a release announcing the sanctions.

Billing itself as an "anti-imperialist, anti-Zionist" think tank, New Horizon organized conferences in Iran that cast a critical eye on USA and Israeli policy worldwide and stoked accusations of anti-Semitism from Western critics.

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. Her work for the government ended in 2010. Prosecutors say that Individual A worked as a spotter and assessor for Iranian intelligence.

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

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


She eventually did, with help from Individual A, in August 2013. Iran's nuclear program was the target of the U.S.

Witt allegedly gave Iranian officials the code name and mission of a highly classified U.S. Defense Department program and the specific target involved in that intelligence operation. "I am endeavoring to put the training I received to good use instead of evil", she told that person in an email.

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.

In a charging document, investigators say the 39-year-old was deployed by the United States to locations in the Middle East to conduct classified counterintelligence operations.


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