AF Vet Charged With Leaking Classified Material on Russian Election Hacking

reality winner

By Debbie Gregory.

A 25-year-old Air Force veteran and federal contractor has been accused of leaking classified information regarding a 2016 Russian military intelligence cyberattack to an online news outlet.

Reality Leigh Winner was arrested on June 3 and charged with leaking classified material to a digital news outlet, the Department of Justice announced yesterday. She is now being held at a facility in Lincolnton, GA, her attorney said

Arrested at her home in Augusta, GA, Winner allegedly “printed and improperly removed classified intelligence reporting, which contained classified national defense information from an intelligence community agency, and unlawfully retained it.”

Winner enlisted in the Air Force in 2013, serving as an airman first class with the 94th Intelligence Squadron at Fort Meade, Maryland, until earlier this year when she separated. She maintained a top secret clearance after separating from the military.

Winner allegedly mailed the classified documents to online news outlet The Intercept. The documents, characterized the documents as “the most detailed U.S. government account of Russian interference in the election that has yet come to light,” alleged that Russia’s military intelligence agency, the GRU, hacked “at least one U.S. voting software supplier and sent phishing emails to more than 100 local election officials just days before last November’s presidential election.”

Winner admitted to printing out the classified information, leaving her office with it, and intentionally mailing it to The Intercept, despite knowing the consequences, according to the arrest warrant.

“Releasing classified material without authorization threatens our nation’s security and undermines public faith in government,” said Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. “People who are trusted with classified information and pledge to protect it must be held accountable when they violate that obligation.”

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