U.S says ex-intel official defected to Iran, revealed secrets

A former U.S Air Force counterintelligence specialist who defected to Iran despite warnings from the FBI has been charged with revealing classified information to the Tehran government, including the code name and secret mission of a Pentagon program, prosecutors said on Wednesday.

The Justice Department also accused Monica Elfriede Witt, 39, of betraying former colleagues in the U.S intelligence community by feeding details about their personal and professional lives to Iran.

Four hackers linked to the Iranian government, charged in the same indictment, used that information to target the intelligence workers online, prosecutors said.

Witt had been on the FBI's radar at least a year before she defected after she attended an Iranian conference and appeared in anti-American videos. She was warned about her activities, but told agents that she would not provide sensitive information about her work if she returned to Iran, prosecutors say. She was not arrested at the time.

"Once a holder of a top secret security clearance, Monica Witt actively sought opportunities to undermine the United States and support the government of Iran a country which poses a serious threat to our national security," said FBI executive assistant director Jay Tabb, the bureau's top national security official.

Tabb said "she provided information that could cause serious damage to national security," though he did not provide specifics.

(with news agency inputs)