Federal Contractor With Top Secret Security Clearance Charged With Leaking Classified NSA Information to Media

The Justice Department announced charges Monday against a federal contractor with Top Secret security clearance, after she allegedly leaked classified information to an online media outlet.

Reality Leigh Winner, 25, a contractor with Pluribus International Corporation in Georgia, is accused of “removing classified material from a government facility and mailing it to a news outlet,” according to a federal complaint.

CNN is told by sources that the document Winner allegedly leaked is the same one used as the basis for the article published Monday by The Intercept, detailing a classified National Security Agency memo. The NSA report, dated May 5, provides details of a 2016 Russian military intelligence cyberattack on a US voting software supplier, though there is no evidence that any votes were affected by the hack.

A US official confirmed to CNN that The Intercept‘s document is a genuine, classified NSA document.

US intelligence officials tell CNN that the information has not changed the January 2017 Intelligence Community Assessment, which found: “Russian intelligence obtained and maintained access to elements of multiple US state or local electoral boards. DHS assesses that the types of systems Russian actors targeted or compromised were not involved in vote tallying.”

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.

“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,” Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said in a statement Monday.

Winner faces up to 10 years in prison for leaking classified information. Winner’s court-appointed attorney, Titus Nichols, said a detention hearing will take place on Thursday in Augusta, where the judge will determine whether to release her on bond. Winner did not enter a plea in her initial appearance Monday.

Last month Attorney General Jeff Sessions slammed leaks in the wake of the Manchester attacks, saying: “We have already initiated appropriate steps to address these rampant leaks that undermine our national security.”

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SOURCE: CNN, Evan Perez, Jim Sciutto and Laura Jarrett