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NSA Contractor Charged for Leaking Russian Hacking Intel to News Site

Variety logo Variety 6/6/2017 Ted Johnson
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On the same day that The Intercept published details from a classified intelligence report on Russian efforts to hack U.S. voting systems just days before the November election, a federal contractor was charged with leaking the material.

Reality Leigh Winner, 25, a federal contractor with Pluribus International Corporation, was charged with removing classified material from a government facility and mailing it to a news outlet. Sources told CNN that the document was the same one that formed the basis of The Intercept story.

Winner was arrested by the FBI at her home on Saturday and appeared in federal court in Augusta, Ga., on Monday.

According to the Justice Department, Winner has been employed at a government facility since around Feb. 13, and has held a “top secret” clearance during that time. Around May 9, Winner printed and removed the classified intelligence, and then “unlawfully transmitted by mail the intelligence reporting to an online news outlet.”

According to am FBI affidavit, when the news outlet shared the documents with U.S. officials to authenticate them, federal authorities “determined the pages of the intelligence reporting appeared to be folded and/or creased, suggesting they had been printed and hand-carried out of a secured space.”

That helped them narrow their search to six individuals who had printed out the intelligence information. Authorities said that they also determined that Winner had e-mail contact with the news outlet. When she was questioned, she admitted removing the intelligence and mailing it to the news outlet.

The Intercept reported that the intelligence was a National Security Agency memo that detailed a Russian intelligence-executed cyberattack on a software supplier and efforts to hack local election officials.

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