NSA Contractor Arrested for Allegedly Leaking Report on Russian Hacking
On Monday, hours after The Intercept published a piece including a top-secret National Security Agency report on Russian military cyberattacks in the run-up to the 2016 U.S. election, charges against the person who allegedly leaked the document to the publication were announced. The Intercept piece revealed that the NSA had come across information that showed that “Russian military intelligence executed a cyberattack on at least one U.S. voting software supplier and sent spear-phishing emails to more than 100 local election officials just days before last November’s presidential election.” The article adds that while the report “analyzes intelligence very recently acquired by the agency about a months-long Russian intelligence cyber effort against elements of the U.S. election and voting infrastructure … it does not show the underlying ‘raw’ intelligence on which the analysis is based.”
Regarding the piece, Intercept journalists Glenn Greenwald and Jeremy Scahill tweeted out warnings about the content of the report.
Journalism requires that document be published and reported. Rationality requires it be read skeptically.
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) June 5, 2017
— jeremy scahill (@jeremyscahill) June 5, 2017
Reality Leigh Winner, a 25-year-old NSA contractor who worked at Georgia’s Pluribus International Corp., was arrested by the FBI on Saturday, and shortly after the Intercept piece was published she was charged with “removing classified material from a government facility and mailing it to a news outlet.” According to CNN, the “classified material” cited in the federal complaint placed against Winner is precisely the report cited in the piece above.
Prosecutors say when confronted with the allegations, Winner admitted to intentionally leaking the classified document—and she was arrested June 3 in Augusta, Georgia.
An internal audit revealed Winner was one of six people who printed the document, but the only one who had email contact with the news outlet, according to the complaint. It further states that the intelligence agency was subsequently contacted by the news outlet on May 30 regarding an upcoming story, saying it was in possession of what appeared to be a classified document.
The Intercept’s director of communications Vivian Siu told CNN the document was provided anonymously.
“As we reported in the story, the NSA document was provided to us anonymously. The Intercept has no knowledge of the identity of the source,” Siu said.
The Guardian includes detailed information about Winner’s life:
Winner was born in Texas in December 1991. She was raised in Kingsville, a small city in the south of the state, about 40 miles from Corpus Christi. She has a sister, Brittany, who is studying for a PhD in Pharmacology and Toxicology at Michigan State University and did not respond to an email.
Reality began working for Pluribus in Augusta, Georgia, in February this year, according to court filings. She previously served in the US air force since January 2013 and held a top-secret security clearance.
Her mother [Billie Winner-Davis] said Reality had been a linguist for the air force. “She speaks the middle eastern languages – Farsi, Dari and Pashto,” said Winner-Davis, who laughed when asked if she had taught them to her daughter. “No, she did it all on her own,” she said.
Winner-Davis said that her daughter had joined the military soon after graduating from H M King high school. As well as being bright academically, she excelled in tennis and athletics. “But she had gotten a little tired of school,” said her mother, and decided against continuing with college. … Winner’s posts on social media over recent months suggest … that she, like many other Americans, had become increasingly agitated over some extraordinary developments in national politics.
She posted disparagingly on Facebook about Donald Trump’s pledge to build a wall along the Mexican border, about his draconian criminal justice plans, and about his assault on the Environmental Protection Agency. In February, she referred to the president as “piece of shit”.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange tweeted a supportive message Monday after the charges against Winner were announced.
Alleged NSA whistleblower Reality Leigh Winner must be supported. She is a young women accused of courage in trying to help us know. pic.twitter.com/B4aIdt7qz6
— Julian Assange (@JulianAssange) June 6, 2017
— Posted by Natasha Hakimi Zapata