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Julian Assange: Alleged NSA leaker 'must be supported'
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange says that a 25-year-old government contractor accused of sharing National Security Agency (NSA) documents with a media outlet "must be supported."
"Alleged NSA whistleblower Reality Leigh Winner must be supported," he tweeted Monday alongside a picture of Winner. "She is a young woman accused of courage in trying to help us know."
"It doesn't matter why she did it or the quality [of] the report," Assange added in a separate tweet. "Acts of non-elite sources communicating knowledge should be strongly encouraged."
Prosecutors earlier Monday announced that the Department of Justice had charged Winner with sharing top-secret material with a media outlet.
Court documents filed by the government did not specify which outlet received the material, but NBC News reported Monday that the information 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 Intercept's report suggest that it was created May 5, 2017 - the same day prosecutors say the materials Winner is charged with sharing were created.
Prosecutors said Winner allegedly "printed and improperly removed classified intelligence reporting, which contained classified national defense information" last month.
They added that the FBI obtained a warrant to probe Winner's home last weekend, where she admitted to intentionally removing classified materials, retaining them and then mailing them to the news outlet.
The FBI then arrested Winner for being in violation of 18 U.S.C. Section 793(e), which states that it is illegal to "willfully" deliver or transmit "information relating to the national defense which the possessor has reason to believe could be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of any foreign nation."
Winner, a contractor with Pluribus International Corporation, reportedly began working for a government agency in Georgia in February.