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Iran was able to flip a US counter-intelligence agent and used her to spy on former colleagues, the Justice Department said on Wednesday.

The Justice Department said the information threatened other agents in the US intelligence community, a federation of 16 agencies.

An Iranian communications company was also sanctioned for allegedly planting malware on United States intelligence agents' computers.

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.

The most notable of the four Iranian hackers is Behzad Mesri, who United States authorities also charged in November 2017 with hacking HBO, stealing scripts for unaired episodes of season 6 of the hit series Game Of Thrones TV show, and later attempting to extort HBO execs for $6 million.

"It is a sad day for America when one of its citizens betrays our country", said Assistant Attorney General John Demers at a briefing to make public the charges. She also researched private information about colleagues she had worked with and created what the government says were "target packages" for use by the Iranian government.

After her defection, Witt allegedly proceeded to provide Iranian officials with the code name and classified mission details of the U.S. Department of Defense Special Access Program.

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

About one year later, she re-entered Iran, where she was provided housing and computer equipment. According to documents released by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) on Wednesday, Monica Witt, 39, defected to Iran in 2013. "Thanks for giving me the opportunity". She posed as a USA veteran who had become disillusioned with her country's policies and appeared on Iranian TV to criticize her government.

After Witt returned to the U.S., Federal Bureau of Investigation agents conducted a defensive briefing with her to warn her that she might be the target of recruitment by Iranian security services.

Witt was working as a contractor in 2012 when she was offered an all-expenses-paid invitation to a "Hollywoodism" conference that was sponsored by the Iranian government and that promoted anti-Western propaganda, according to the Justice Department. Her work for the government ended in 2010.

Witt maintained contact with an IRGC member she met at the conference and eventually defected to the Islamic Republic. Authorities said Mojtaba Masoumpour, Behzad Mesri, Hossein Parvar and Mohamad Paryar sought to install malware in the computers of Witt's former co-workers through fake social media accounts.

"[The] Treasury is taking action against malicious Iranian cyber actors and covert operations that have targeted Americans at home and overseas as part of our ongoing efforts to counter the Iranian regime's cyber-attacks", said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. -Israeli computer sabotage weapon Stuxnet, for example, and Iran has been blamed for a number of cyberattacks against the USA and its allies, including Saudi Arabia.


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