She left the Air Force in 2008 as a special agent assigned to the 2nd Field Investigations Squadron at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland just outside of Washington D.C., according to military records.
The US Justice Department charged a former Air Force intelligence official Wednesday with spying for Iran, saying she exposed a fellow US agent and helped the Revolutionary Guard target her former colleagues with cyber-attacks.
Witt, 39, disclosed the true name and work of a U.S. government agent to Iran in 2014-2015, the indictment alleges, and also "created target packages for use by Iran" against USA government agents and counterintelligence officers. "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 United States intelligence officer, thereby risking the life of this individual". Four Iranians were also charged for conspiracy and aggravated identity theft including Mojtaba Masoumpour, Behzad Mesri, Hosseini Parvar, and Mohammad Paryar. Her work for the government ended in 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.
"As someone who served in the U.S. army for years, I expected that after embracing Islam, my right to choose a religion and my beliefs would be respected", Witt, who was born in El Paso, Texas, said at the time.
The indictment suggests that Witt defected for ideological motives, and it quotes emails between Witt and an Iranian agent, referred to as Individual A, prior to her defection. USA officials also imposed sanctions on an Iran firm, Net Peygard Samavat Company, that it said conducted the hacking operation, and Iranian events company, New Horizon Organization, that it said works to recruit foreign attendees.
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The Justice Department alleged she shared with Iran packages of information about her former colleagues so they could be targeted, as well as the code name and mission of a Defence Department Special Access Programme, which was highly classified. 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. In Iran, she has appeared to work at times to publish anti-American articles for the state-owned Press TV.
The indictment includes snippets of dialogue between Witt and the person who recruited her her, identified only as Individual 1. For me? Well, I loved the work, and I am endeavoring to put the training I received to good use instead of evil.??
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.
The Iranian hackers also used photos and information of another USA counterintelligence official to create a fake Facebook account for friending other agents. The Justice Department said the information threatened other agents in the US intelligence community, a federation of 16 agencies.
Yahoo News reports that she wrote a message claiming that she might "do like [Edward] Snowden", the former U.S. intelligence contractor who leaked thousands of highly-classified documents about the National Security Agency in 2013 before being granted asylum in Russian Federation.
Witt herself was recruited by Iran after attending two worldwide conferences organized by New Horizon, U.S. officials said. She successfully defected in August 2013.