The Justice Department has filed charges against a 25-year-old woman. Reality Leigh Winner has been accused of stealing Top Secret information and providing it to the online news outlet, The Intercept.
The complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court in Georgia. The report states Winner is accused of “removing classified material from a government facility and mailing it to a news outlet.”
Winner lives in Augusta and worked for Pluribus International since Feb. 13. There, she did have Top Secret clearance.
On May 9th, according to the complaint, “Winner printed and improperly removed classified intelligence reporting, which contained classified national defense information from an intelligence community agency, and unlawfully retained it.” She then mailed (yes, mailed, envelope, stamp, the whole nine yards) the information to the online news source a few days later. The documents “appeared to be folded and/or creased, suggesting they had been printed and hand-carried out of a secured space.”
The agency conducted an internal audit and found only six people had printed the information. One of them was Winner.
“A further audit of the six individuals’ desk computers revealed that WINNER had e-mail contact with the News Outlet. The audit did not reveal that any of the other individuals had e-mail contact with the News Outlet.”
Not the smartest leaker if you ask us.
Though the news outlet was not named in the complaint, NBC News reported that the recipient of the information was The Intercept, a website founded by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar.
The U.S. agency that contracts with Pluribus International was also not named, but it is known that the National Security Agency does contract work through the firm.
The content of the stolen documents also leads to the conclusion that it was the NSA. The documents contained Top Secret information about Russia’s attempts to hack into voter registration systems prior to the election.
FBI agents interviewed Winner at her home on Saturday. During the interview she acknowledged that “she intentionally identified and printed” classified information “despite not having a ‘need to know,’ and with knowledge that the intelligence reporting was classified.”
“Winner further admitted removing the classified intelligence reporting from her office space, retaining it, and mailing it from Augusta, Georgia, to the news outlet, which she knew was not authorized to receive or possess the documents,” the complaint reads.
The U.S. agency notified the FBI of the breach on June 1. The news outlet to which Winner provided the information contacted the agency the day before and said that it was in possession of documents it believed were authored by the agency. The news outlet said that it planned to publish an article based on the documents.
The federal complaint then states that the news outlet published the information on May 5. That appears to be an error. The Intercept published an article based on stolen NSA documents on Monday.
She was definitely not the smartest leaker ever and it was pretty easy to find her.