Washington, DC. In a long awaited signal that the US Justice Department actually is still open for business, a 25-year old contractor was taken away by Federal Agents for leaking a top secret document used in the Intercept article on Russian hacking.
America’s Department of Justice on Monday charged a federal contractor with sending classified material to a news organization that sources identified to Reuters as The Intercept, marking one of the first concrete efforts by the Trump administration to crack down on leaks to the media, since the start of the “RussiaGate” scandal. The Justice Department declined to comment on the case beyond its filing. America’s FBI or Federal Bureau of Investigation, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The arrest was announced less than an hour after The Intercept published a top-secret document from the National Security Agency that described Russian efforts to launch cyber attacks on at least one American voting software supplier and send “spear-phishing” emails, or targeted emails that try to trick a recipient into clicking on a malicious link to steal data, to more than 100 local election officials days before the presidential election last November.
Taken into custody by FBI Agents was one Reality Leigh Winner, 25, who was charged with removing classified material from a government facility located in Georgia. She was arrested on June 3rd Justice Department spokespersons said.
The Intercept’s reporting reveals new details behind the conclusion of American intelligence agencies that Russian intelligence services were seeking to infiltrate state voter registration systems as part of a broader effort to interfere in the election, discredit Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and help then Republican candidate Donald Trump win the election. The new material does not, however, suggest that actual votes were manipulated.
The FBI and several congressional committees are investigating how Russia allegedly interfered in the 2016 presidential election and whether Donald Trump may have colluded with Russian intelligence operatives during the campaign. Trump has dismissed the allegations as “fake news,” while attempting to refocus attention on leaks of information to the media.
The charges do not name the publication, an official with knowledge of the case said Winner was charged with leaking the NSA report to The Intercept. A second official confirmed The Intercept document was authentic and did not dispute that the charges against Winner were directly tied to it. The Intercept co-founding editor Glenn Greenwald did not immediately respond to a News Front request for comment. Winter’s mother also did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
While partially redacted, the NSA document is marked to show it would be up for declassification on May 5, 2042. The indictment against Winner alleges she “printed and improperly removed” classified intelligence reporting that was dated “on or about May 5, 2017.”