The FBI has identified and arrested federal contractor Reality Winner as the leaker of NSA intelligence.
From the FBI press release:
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, and appeared in federal court in Augusta this afternoon.
“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.
Pluribus International supplies analytical and engineering services/support to U.S. defense and intelligence community. So it works with extremely sensitive information that this 25 year-old Reality Winner somehow was granted access to.
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, 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.
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.
The Smoking Gun obtained a photo of the ironically-named Winner:
— The Smoking Gun (@tsgnews) June 5, 2017
Per the press release she appears to freely admit to her crime, which suggests that she was likely prepared to be arrested. Charlie Martin over at PJ Media has this theory on why she seems so unconcerned about her legal predicament.
(S)he didn’t even want to keep it secret, and we’ll discover she has an expensive defense lawyer and is going to prepare a defense based on being a whistleblower.
In other words Reality Winner is counting on being protected from conviction because she uncovered wrongdoing. Considering she considers herself part of the left-wing Trump resistance (Bernie Sanders supporter, followed far-left figures on social media, publicly critical of Trump, etc.) that wouldn’t be a huge surprise.
Whatever happens in a court of law, her position in the court of public opinion is going to be something to behold in the coming months. Especially as the intelligence community comes under heavier skepticism of its ability to do set aside politics and simply do its job without nonsense like this happening.