We have a Winner, Reality Winner arrested for leaking classified NSA docs.
Reality Leigh Winner, a government contractor accused of sending a top-secret document to a news outlet, federal authorities brought charges less than a week after being tipped off.
Winner, 25, was charged Monday with gathering, transmitting or losing defense information, as The Washington Post reported. Court documents did not identify the document that was leaked or the news outlet that received it, but the criminal complaint against Winner was unveiled shortly after the national security site the Intercept published a story containing an NSA report on Russian efforts to interfere with the 2016 election.
Investigators said they searched Winner's work computer and found that she had emailed the news outlet in March from a personal account. In her message, they said, she appeared to ask for transcripts of a podcast. In response, the news outlet "confirmed Winner's subscription to the service," according to the affidavit.
The review of Winner's computer history also showed that on May 9 she searched the agency's classified system using search terms that led her to the report, the affidavit says. That day, it says, she printed the document.
The agency told the FBI about the leak on June 1. The same day, the affidavit says, an unidentified government contractor contacted the agency to say he had been in touch with a reporter from the news outlet, who had texted pictures of the document to verify their authenticity. The reporter told the contractor that the documents came through the mail and were postmarked "Augusta, Georgia," according to the affidavit.
"The Contractor informed the Reporter that he thought that the documents were fake," the affidavit reads. "Nevertheless, the Contractor contacted the U.S. Government Agency on or about June 1, 2017, to inform the U.S. Government Agency of his interaction with the reporter."
The following day, FBI agents staked out Winner's one-story red brick house near downtown Augusta, Ga., where they saw her driving a light-colored Nissan Cube, according to the affidavit.
Winner was arrested Saturday. When FBI agents questioned her at her home, she admitted "removing the classified intelligence reporting from her office space, retaining it, and mailing it from Augusta, Georgia, to the news outlet," court documents read. She remains in jail pending a detention hearing. Her lawyer declined to comment on the charges.
After the charges were announced Monday, some cybersecurity experts remarked on the apparent ease with which investigators were able to trace the leak back to Winner. Some went so far as to say the Intercept had "outed" her by posting copies of the document online. The Intercept said the materials were submitted anonymously.
According to Rob Graham, who writes for the blog Errata Security, the Intercept's scanned images of the intelligence report contained tracking dots — small, barely visible yellow dots that show "exactly when and where documents, any document, is printed." Nearly all modern color printers feature such tracking markers, which are used to identify a printer's serial number and the date and time a page was printed.
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