DOJ arrests leak suspect following Russian hacking report
The Department of Justice announced Monday evening that it was charging a federal contractor for removing and mailing classified documents about Russian intelligence launching a cyberattack on a U.S. voting software company, which had been the subject of a bombshell report in the Intercept a few hours prior.
Reality Leigh Winner, 25, is being charged with "removing classified material from a government facility and mailing it to a news outlet," according to a DOJ press release.
NBC News subsequently reported that Winner was being charged with leaking the document to the Intercept.
Winner was arrested by the FBI at her home on Saturday.
On Monday afternoon, the Intercept published a report about a top-secret National Security Agency document the organization obtained, in which NSA intelligence concluded that Russian military intelligence had attempted to hack more than 100 local election officials, and that it had carried out a cyberattack on a voting software company.
According to the Intercept's report:
The NSA analysis does not draw conclusions about whether the interference had any effect on the election’s outcome and concedes that much remains unknown about the extent of the hackers’ accomplishments. However, the report raises the possibility that Russian hacking may have breached at least some elements of the voting system, with disconcertingly uncertain results.
The report did not find that vote tallies were targeted or affected, but that officials and manufacturers involved with voter registration management, and devices used to maintain and verify voter rolls, were.
The Intercept reported that the document was mailed to the news outlet anonymously. A spokeswoman for the Intercept confirmed that the site had "no knowledge of the identity of the source."
According to an affidavit from an FBI special agent, investigators began looking into the identity of the leaker after the Intercept provided them with a copy of the document to verify its authenticity.
Winner was one of several individuals who printed out the document, and the investigation later found that Winner had email contact with the news outlet. According to the same affidavit, Winner admitted to printing out and mailing the document when approached by the special agent.
Winner's arrest comes as many members of the Trump administration, including President Donald Trump himself, have threatened to criminally prosecute people who leak damaging information about Trump and members of the administration to journalists.
Trump reportedly called on former FBI Director James Comey to prosecute journalists for publishing classified information before firing him over the FBI’s probe into ties between members of Trump campaign and Russian officials.