SPYLEAKS: When Snowflakes Are Trusted With Top Secret Documents
Federal Government Contractor Reality Winner in Georgia Charged with Removing and Mailing Classified Materials to a News Outlet
“It doesn’t matter why she did it or the quality the report. Acts of non-elite sources communicating knowledge should be strongly encouraged.”
“Alleged NSA whistleblower Reality Leigh Winner must be supported. She is a young woman accused of courage in trying to help us know.”
– Julian Assange on Twitter on June 5, 2017
Snowflake with Top Secret Clearance Posted antiTrump remarks on Social Media
She was charged with gathering, transmitting or losing defense information that could have been damaging to the U.S. She is accused of taking a top-secret National Security Agency document, copying it and mailing it to a news organization believed to be The Intercept, NBC News reported, though the organization was not named in the federal court documents.
The Intercept published an intelligence document on June 5 —
the same day Winner appeared in court — that’s in line with what’s said in a criminal complaint. The Intercept’s report described details about Russian efforts to hack voting systems in the U.S. about one week before the 2016 presidential election. The document said that it “raises the possibility that Russian hacking may have breached at least some elements of the voting system, with disconcertingly uncertain results.”
Winner was an employee at Pluribus International Corporation based out of Alexandria, Virginia. She was then assigned to a government agency in Georgia. She was employed at the facility since February 13 and held a Top Secret security clearance.
Pluribus is an analytical and engineering service that provides its services to federal, defense, security and the intelligence community. The company has 22 locations across the world, including three in the Republic of Korea. The one located in Georgia is in Fort Gordon.
Notably, Winner didn’t shy away from giving her take on politics. Just one day before the 2016 presidential election, she made a post to Facebook saying “on a positive note, This Tuesday when we become the United States of the Russian Federation, Olympic lifting will be the national sport.”
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A criminal complaint was filed in the Southern District of Georgia today charging Reality Leigh Winner, 25, a federal contractor from Augusta, Georgia, with removing classified material from a government facility and mailing it to a news outlet, in violation of 18 U.S.C. Section 793(e).
Winner was arrested by the FBI at her home on Saturday, June 3, 2017, and appeared in federal court in Augusta on Monday, June 5, 2017.
“Releasing classified material without authorization threatens our nation’s security and undermines public faith in government. People who are trusted with classified information and pledge to protect it must be held accountable when they violate that obligation.”
“Exceptional law enforcement efforts allowed us quickly to identify and arrest the defendant,” said Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein. “Releasing classified material without authorization threatens our nation’s security and undermines public faith in government. People who are trusted with classified information and pledge to protect it must be held accountable when they violate that obligation.”
According to the allegations contained in the criminal complaint:
Winner is a contractor with Pluribus International Corporation assigned to a U.S. government agency facility in Georgia. She has been employed at the facility since on or about February 13, and has held a Top-Secret clearance during that time. On or about May 9, 2017, Winner printed and improperly removed classified intelligence reporting, which contained classified national defense information from an intelligence community agency, and unlawfully retained it. Approximately a few days later, Winner unlawfully transmitted by mail the intelligence reporting to an online news outlet.
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.
Once investigative efforts identified Winner as a suspect, the FBI obtained and executed a search warrant at her residence. According to the complaint, Winner agreed to talk with agents during the execution of the warrant. During that conversation, Winner admitted intentionally identifying and printing the classified intelligence reporting at issue 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.
An individual charged by criminal complaint is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty of being a traitor and a spy at some later criminal proceedings.
The prosecution is being handled by Trial Attorney Julie A. Edelstein of the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Solari of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Georgia. The investigation is being conducted by the FBI.