Gov't contractor charged with leaking classified info to media

The Department of Justice charged 25-year-old government contractor Reality Leigh Winner with sharing top secret material with a media outlet, prosecutors announced in a press release Monday.

Court documents filed by the government don't specify which media outlet received the materials allegedly leaked by Winner, but NBC News reported that the material went to the Intercept online news outlet.

The Intercept published a top secret NSA report Monday that alleged Russian military intelligence launched a 2016 cyberattack on a voting software company.

Details on the report published by The Intercept suggest that it was created on May 5, 2017 — the same day prosecutors say the materials Winner is charged with sharing were created. A Justice Department spokesman declined to comment on whether Winner is accused of sharing the report published by the Intercept. 

Last month, Winner allegedly “printed and improperly removed classified intelligence reporting, which contained classified national defense information” before mailing the materials to an unnamed online news outlet a few days later, according to prosecutors.

ADVERTISEMENT
Winner, a contractor with Pluribus International Corporation, began working for a government agency based in Georgia in February.

The FBI obtained a warrant over the weekend to search Winner’s home, where she admitted to intentionally removing classified materials, retaining them, and then mailing them to the news outlet, according to the release. 

Investigators were able to tell from a copy of the report provided by the unnamed media outlet that the report had been printed, according to court filings. A computer search revealed that Winner had had email contact with the media outlet, according to an FBI affidavit.

The FBI then arrested Winner for being in violation of 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.