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Federal contractor arrested for leaking top secret NSA report


PUBLISHED Mon, June 05, 2017 - 6:30pm EDT
Credit: NSA


A federal contractor in the U.S. state of Georgia has been arrested and charged after she admitted sending a classified report to an online news outlet. The arrest is believed to be linked to a story from The Intercept news website. (more)





The investigation began on May 30 when a U.S. government agency was contacted by an online news outlet regarding an upcoming story. They informed the agency that it was in possession of what they believed to be a classified document, according to an affidavit, which said the outlet provided a copy.

"Subsequent analysis by the U.S. Government Agency confirmed that the document in the News Outlet's possession is intelligence reporting," the affidavit explains, adding that the information is classified at the the "Top Secret" level.

An internal audit determined that a total of 6 people had accessed and printed the document, including 25-year-old federal contractor Reality Leigh Winner. An audit of the computers used by them revealed that only Winner had been in email contact with the news outlet.

When FBI agents spoke to Winner at her home in Augusta, Georgia, on Saturday, she admitted intentionally identifying and printing the classified report, removing it from her office space, and eventually mailing it to the news outlet, according to the affidavit. She was then taken into custody.

The news of Winner's arrest came just hours after The Intercept posted a story about a top secret report from the National Security Agency (NSA). And although the Justice Department did not name the news outlet, both Winner's document and the document released by The Intercept were dated May 5.

The document published by The Intercept claims Russian military intelligence executed a cyberattack on at least one U.S. voting software supplier and sent spear-phishing emails to more than 100 local election officials just days before last year's presidential election. A U.S. intelligence officer cautioned that the analysis in the NSA report was not necessarily definitive.

Winner has been charged with gathering, transmitting or losing defense information.

"Releasing classified material without authorization threatens our nation's security and undermines public faith in government," Deputy U.S. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said in a statement. "People who are trusted with classified information and pledge to protect it must be held accountable when they violate that obligation."

President Donald Trump has repeatedly lashed out at government employees who have leaked information to journalists. Last month, British authorities briefly suspended intelligence-sharing with the United States after sources in the U.S. kept leaking information about the Manchester Arena bombing.

While there is no evidence to link Winner to other leaks, Trump has repeatedly called on the Justice Department to find those responsible. "These leaks have been going on for a long time and my Administration will get to the bottom of this. The leaks of sensitive information pose a grave threat to our national security," Trump said in a statement last month.





    

 



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