The Department of Justice charged a government contractor, Reality Leigh Winner (25), with leaking top secret classified information with a media outlet, according to a press release from the Department of Justice. On Monday, The Intercept published a top secret report by the National Security Agency that alleges that Russian military intelligence launched a 2016 cyberattack on a voting software company.
The Intercept is an online newspaper that was launched and funded by Ebay founder Pierre Omidyar, who is the 100th richest person in the world. The site encourages those who have access to classified material to send it to them anonymously. However, the documents filed by DOJ in court do not specify the media outlet in question. One of the writers at The Intercept is Glenn Greenwald, who collaborated with NSA contractor Edward Snowden. Snowden released classified material and was smuggled into Russia and has evaded American justice.
The report suggests that it was created on May 5, 2017, which was the same day prosecutors say the materials Winner is charged with sharing were created. It is not clear whether the material in The Intercept was the material she shared. Winner had retained a Top Secret security clearance she earned in the Air Force.
Reality Winner, arrested for alleged classified leak, is a former US Air Force linguist who speaks Pashto, Farsi & Dari, her mother tells me pic.twitter.com/SQjt13wRw6— Jon Swaine (@jonswaine) June 5, 2017
Winner began working for a government agency based in Georgia in February as a contractor with Pluribus International Corporation. Over the June 3-4 weekend, the FBI obtained a warrant to search her home. It is at her home she intentionally removed classified materials, retaining them, and mailing them to the news outlet, according to a statement by the Department of Justice. A search showed that Winner had been in email contact with the media outlet, according to the FBI. Her social media posts showed that she was a fan of Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Winner was arrested for violating 18 U.S.C. Section 793(e), under which it is illegal to "willfully" deliver or transmit "information relating to the national defense which information the possessor has reason to believe could be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of any foreign nation."
Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein praised law enforcement for acting quickly as well as denouncing the act of leaking classified materials.
“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,” Rosenstein said in a statement.
In 2014, U.S. National Counterintelligence Executive (NCE) William Evanina said that FBI was probing how The Intercept obtained classified documents for an article that revealed details about a database of terrorism suspects, which linked some people to terrorism even if they had no known association with any terrorism group. "It's a criminal act that has us very concerned," said Evanina. Formerly with the FBI, Evanina was appointed to the post by Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper in May 2014. In August 2014, The Intercept claimed that members of the Armed Forces are not authorized to read it.
In February of this year, President Donald Trump vowed that leakers who reveal classified information will pay a heavy price for their actions.