Reality Leigh Winner, a 25-year-old contractor with Pluribus International Corporation, was charged in federal court Monday for allegedly leaking a National Security Agency (NSA) report on Russian Election hacking to left-wing news site The Intercept.
In the criminal complaint handed down in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia, Winner is charged with “Gathering, transmitting or losing defense information” in relation to an alleged scheme to leak a May NSA report to the media.
According to a the supporting affidavit, Winner printed the report, for which she had no “need to know,” smuggled it from an unnamed U.S. intelligence agency facility in Georgia, and later transmitted it to an unnamed news outlet.
The matter was serious enough that the nation’s number two law enforcement official, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, felt it necessary to weigh in. In the press release announcing Winner’s charging, Rosenstein wrote:
Exceptional law enforcement efforts allowed us quickly to identify and arrest the defendant … Releasing classified material without authorization threatens our nation’s security and undermines public faith in government. People who are trusted with classified information and pledge to protect it must be held accountable when they violate that obligation.
She was caught only when that news outlet asked the intelligence agency to comment on the document last Tuesday. Upon realizing the document was, in fact, classified material, the agency quickly enlisted the FBI for an internal investigation that pointed to Reality Winner as the source of the leaks.
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