The first of what will likely be many arrests of a classified information leaker took place Monday afternoon when federal agents placed Reality Winner, a former Air Force enlisted Middle Eastern linguist who worked for a government contractor, into custody and charged her with theft of classified information.
Tuesday morning, we began learning more about this leaker, as well as her potential motivations for stealing "Top Secret" information about Russian attempts to break into state voting systems ahead of last year's presidential election, and then mailing that information to the online news outlet The Intercept. According to a report by The Daily Caller's Chuck Ross, Winner is a member of the so-called "Resistance" inspired by former Democratic Party presidential candidate U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.:
The 25-year-old woman who stole "Top Secret" documents from the National Security Agency and leaked them to The Intercept appears to be a supporter of Bernie Sanders and other progressive icons, such as Bill Maher and Michael Moore.
Reality Leigh Winner's apparent social media footprint also shows that she is a supporter of other liberal causes, including the Women's March and the Islamic Society of North America, the Muslim civil rights group.
She also recently referred to President Trump as a "piece of [expletive]" because of his position on the Dakota Access Pipeline protests ...
Winner admitted to FBI agents that she stole the documents and provided them to The Intercept. The news site published an article on Monday that appears to be based on the stolen materials. The Top Secret records show that Russian agents attempted to hack into U.S. voting systems prior to the November election.
The federal complaint filed against Winner reveals that she stole the classified documents on May 9, four days after they were published by the NSA. She printed the report and sent it through ground mail to The Intercept. On May 30, a reporter with the outlet contacted the NSA inquiring about the documents. The agency then contacted the FBI, which dispatched agents to interview and apprehend Winner at her home in Augusta.
Click here to read the entire report.
The Washington Post revealed that federal indictment documents in the PACER online court document system indicate Winner left an "easy trail" for investigators to follow:
The U.S. government agency examined the document shared by the news outlet and determined the pages of the intelligence reporting appeared to be folded and/or creased," the affidavit reads, "suggesting they had been printed and hand-carried out of a secured space."
An internal audit showed that six people had printed out the top-secret materials after they were published at the beginning of the month. One of them was Winner, who worked for Pluribus International at a facility in Georgia, the affidavit says.
Investigators said they searched Winner's work computer and found that she had emailed the news outlet in March from a personal account. In her message, they said, she appeared to ask for transcripts of a podcast. In response, the news outlet "confirmed Winner's subscription to the service," according to the affidavit.
The review of Winner's computer history also showed that on May 9, she searched the agency's classified system using search terms that led her to the report, the affidavit says. That day, it says, she printed the document.
Click here to read the entire report.
Winner faces 10 years in federal prison based on the current charges.
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