Monica Witt: Who the woman at the centre of the spying case?

US prosecutors have accused a former US Air Force officer of spying for Iran in an elaborate operation that targeted her fellow intelligence officers.

But who is Monica Witt?

Details of her upbringing are unclear, but a previously issued FBI missing persons poster says that she was born on 8 April 1979 in El Paso, Texas.

According a curriculum vitaeposted on jobs website Indeed, Ms Witt joined the Air Force in December 1997. Stationed at Offutt Air Force Base, she worked as a Persian-Farsi language specialist.

She later served as a Special Agent at the Air Force’s Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI) from November 2003, based at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland. On its website, the AFOSI says its mission is to “identify, exploit and neutralize criminal, terrorist and intelligence threats to the Air Force, Department of Defense and U.S. Government.”

A spokesperson for the US Air Force told the BBC she was discharged in June 2008 with the rank of Technical Sergeant. She received numerous decorations including the Air Medal, awarded for “single acts of heroism or meritorious achievements.”

Ms Witt left the US military in May 2008 with the rank of Technical Sergeant. For the next seven months, she worked as a contractor with Booz Allen Hamilton in Maryland, consulting on “Iranian subject matter” and providing “language and cultural specialisation.”

From November 2008 to August 2010, she worked as a Middle East Desk Officer at another contractor, Chenega Federal Systems, in Virginia. During this role Ms Witt says she “supervised, controlled, and coordinated the execution of highly sensitive counterintelligence operations against foreign intelligence services worldwide.”

Later, from December 2010 to May 2011, Ms Witt worked in Washington with Amidest. During her time with the non-profit, she “submitted applications for 60 Iraqi Fulbright candidates to multiple U.S. universities.”

According to her CV, she holds a Bachelors degree, from the University of Maryland, a Masters from George Washington University, and a qualification in Persian-Farsi from the Defense Language Institute.

Whilst at George Washington University, she published articles on Tajik-Iranian relations andsubsidy reform in Iran .

She claims to have lived and worked within countries including Iraq, Qatar, Jordan, Turkey, the UAE., Tajikistan, and Iran.

Monica Witt in Air Force uniform
Monica Witt was last heard from while travelling in southwest Asia.

After this, details of her activities and whereabouts are unclear.

In an undated missing persons declaration the FBI says Witt worked as an English teacher in either Afghanistan or Tajikistan and had out of contact since 2013.

According to her indictment, Ms Witt travelled to Iran in February 2012 to attend a conference organised by the New Horizon Organization. The Justice Department says the event is sponsored by Iran’s Revolutionary and seeks to promote “anti-American propaganda.”

Ms Witt allegedly had an “ideological” turn and defected to Iran in August 2013.

Returning to the country that month, she was provided with housing and computer equipment went on to disclose highly-classified information to Iranian officials. The information included details of her former colleagues within the US intelligence community.

While in Iran, she also allegedly converted to Islam during a television segment after identifying herself as a US veteran, and delivered several broadcasts in which she criticised the US.

In one article , published by state-run Press TV, Ms Witt attacked “a prevailing culture of tolerance for sexual harassment” within the US armed forces.

A warrant has been issued for Ms Witt, who remains at large.

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