WASHINGTON — The Justice Department said Wednesday a former U.S. Air Force sergeant has been charged with spying for Iran by passing along classified secrets to Tehran and helping the regime target her former colleagues.
Monica Witt, who handled sensitive information in her work in counterintelligence for the Air Force and later as a defense contractor, defected to Iran in 2013, authorities told reporters.
The indictment alleges Witt sent an Iranian handler this message in 2012: "I loved the work, and I am endeavoring to put the training I received to good use instead of evil. Thanks for giving me the opportunity."
Witt, born and raised in Texas, is charged with conspiracy to deliver national defense information to Iran.
Four Iranians are also charged with trying to use malware to break into computers of Witt's former colleagues, authorities said. The Iranian hackers were allegedly working on behalf of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and face several charges including conspiracy, computer intrusions and identity theft.
Witt left the Air Force in 2008 at the rank of technical sergeant and worked as a defense contractor for two years, officials said. Her work for the government ended in 2010.
Authorities said she allegedly disclosed the code name and mission of a Defense Department classified program.
"It is a sad day for America when one of its citizens betrays our country," said John Demers, assistant attorney general for national security.
Authorities said an arrest warrant has been issued for Witt, who is still believed to reside in Iran, Justice Department officials said.
The Iranian government did not have an immediate response.