June 6 (UPI) — A U.S. government contractor was arrested by federal agents at her Georgia home over the weekend, accused of unlawfully leaking classified material to a news organization.
The Department of Justice on Monday announced the arrest of Reality Leigh Winner, a contractor for Pluribus International Corporation who had been assigned to a federal government agency in the state.
The criminal complaint against Winner stems from a National Security Agency document dated May 5 that authorities say was improperly taken from its facility in Georgia.
The document outlines new details about alleged hacking efforts by the Russian military’s Main Intelligence Agency — or GRU — in August against a voting-related software vendor, and another that targeted 122 local voting officials a few days before the U.S. election in November.
Winner appeared in federal court in Augusta on Monday afternoon, officials said.
A story about the document was published Monday by The Intercept, an online news organization, just hours before federal authorities announced Winner’s arrest.
The Justice Department didn’t mention the article in its news release, but NBC News cited a source in reporting that authorities believe Winner provided the document in The Intercept story.
“Exceptional law enforcement efforts allowed us quickly to identify and arrest the defendant,” Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein said in a statement. “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.”
The National Security Agency has a large facility near the contractor’s home in Georgia.
Winner, 25, has worked at the government facility since February and has held a top secret clearance. Officials said she “printed and improperly removed classified intelligence reporting” around May 9.
“Approximately a few days later, Winner unlawfully transmitted by mail the intelligence reporting to an online news outlet,” the Justice Department continued, adding that Winner admitted printing the document following her arrest.
“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.”
The FBI continues to investigate the case.