The Justice Department claimed that between January 2012 and May 2015, Ms Witt worked with members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard after an “ideological” defection. They also claim she revealed the identity of several undercover US agents. Four Iranian co-defendants were also indicted, under the Espionage Act and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.
Ms Witt, who was in the Air Force from 1997 to 2008, was last seen in Asia in 2013.
According to court documents, the Justice Department has accused Ms Witt of working with people “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, with the intent and reason to believe that the same would be used to the injury of the United States and to the advantage of Iran.”
US officials said Ms Witt went by the pseudonyms Fatemah Zahra and Narges Witt and that she has converted to Islam.
Ms Witt had top-level security clearance whilst working for the US government and was trained in Farsi by the Defence Language Institute in Monterey, California.
The indictment says: “From in or around May 1999 to in or around November 2003, Witt deployed to several overseas locations in order to conduct classified missions collecting signals intelligence, or SIGINT, involving adversaries of the United States.”
After retiring from the Air Force, Ms Witt worked as a government contractor for two years and may have worked as an English teacher in Afghanistan and Tajikistan, according to the FBI.
Investigators believe that Ms Witt was recruited by Iranian military affiliates whilst attending conferences organised by New Horizon Organisation.
Hackers and cyberspies linked to Iran are some of the most formidable in the world, on par with Russia and China, according to Newsweek.
In March, the US government indicted members of an Iranian hacking group for “one of the largest state-sponsored hacking campaigns” that had ever been prosecuted.
US President Trump pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal could provide an increased incentive for hackers to target the US.
In fact, cybersecurity experts noted that after the agreement was signed in 2015 threats from Iran dropped off.
However, now, three years later this could soon rise again.