Feds Charge Intel Contractor With Leaking Classified Doc To News Outlet

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The FBI arrested a Georgia-based federal government contractor at her home this weekend, and on Monday announced she is being charged with “removing classified material from a government facility and mailing it to a news outlet.” The leaker is identified in the criminal complaint as 25-year-old Reality Leigh Winner, an employee of the contractor Pluribus International Corporation who held a top secret clearance. The Justice Department alleged that Winner admitted taking the classified intelligence document and mailing it to a news outlet.

Though the court document does not identify which agency she works for, it says she removed “classified national defense information” and was based in Augusta, Georgia, which is the site of an NSA “Cryptologic Center.”

Reports quickly emerged following the Justice Department’s issuance of a press release in the case that Winner is allegedly the source of a leaked NSA report published Monday afternoon by The Intercept documenting Russian military intelligence attempts to hack a U.S. voter registration software company and more than 100 local election officials. The NSA document is dated May 5, 2017, and the affidavit for Winner’s arrest alleges she “printed and improperly removed classified intelligence reporting, which contained classified national defense information and was dated on or about May 5, 2017.” The DOJ’s affidavit also cites “pages of the intelligence reporting [that] appeared to be folded and/or creased, suggesting they had been printed and hand-carried out of a secured space.” Creases of that nature are visible in the NSA document published by the Intercept.

A spokesperson for The Intercept told TPM that they have “no knowledge of the identity of the source” of the document because it was provided to them anonymously.

TPM identified a Facebook account that appears to belong to Winner (pictured above) with check-ins in Augusta, Georgia and with pictures from a recent trip to Belize. The search warrant application filed with the U.S District Court for the Southern District of Georgia notes that “on May 27 to 29, 2017, WINNER traveled outside the United States to Belize.”

Read the affidavit by the FBI agent in the case, seeking a warrant for Winner’s arrest:

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alice Ollstein is a reporter at Talking Points Memo, covering national politics. She graduated from Oberlin College in 2010 and has been reporting in DC ever since, covering the Supreme Court, Congress and national elections for TV, radio, print, and online outlets. Her work has aired on Free Speech Radio News, All Things Considered, Channel News Asia, and Telesur, and her writing has been published by The Atlantic, La Opinión, and The Hill Rag. She was elected in 2016 as an at-large board member of the DC Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Alice grew up in Santa Monica, California and began working for local newspapers in her early teens.
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