Reality Leigh Winner became President Donald Trump’s first known suspected leaker after the federal contractor was charged with taking classified documents to an online media outlet.
Winner, 25, a contractor with Pluribus International Corp. in Georgia, was connected to a story published on Monday by the website The Intercept that detailed a classified National Security memo, reported CNN.
The memo, dated May 5, discussed a Russian military intelligence cyberattack on a U.S. voting software supplier.
"Releasing classified material without authorization threatens our nation's security and undermines public faith in government," said U.S. Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein. "People who are trusted with classified information and pledge to protect it must be held accountable when they violate that obligation."
Winner, who had been employed with Pluribus International since February and had a top secret clearance, has been officially charged with removing classified material from a government facility and mailing it to a news outlet, said the Justice Department.
"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," said the Justice Department.
"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."
The Justice Department said Winner removed the classified intelligence reporting from her office space, retained it, and mailed it from Augusta, Georgia, to the news outlet.
CNN said she faces up to 10 years in prison for leaking classified information. While Winner did not enter a plea Monday, her court-appointed attorney, Titus Nichols, said a detention hearing will take place on Thursday in Augusta, to determine if Winner could be releases on bond.
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