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Barely an hour after a news organization published an article about a Top Secret National Security Agency document on Russian hacking, the Justice Department announced charges against a 25-year-old government contractor who a senior federal official says was the leaker of the document.
The May 5, 2017 intelligence document published by The Intercept, an online news organization, describes new details about Russian efforts to hack voting systems in the U.S a week prior to the 2016 presidential election. While the document doesn’t say the hacking changed any votes, it "raises the possibility that Russian hacking may have breached at least some elements of the voting system, with disconcertingly uncertain results."
Even as the document was ricocheting around Washington, the Justice Department announced that a criminal complaint was filed in the Southern District of Georgia charging Reality Leigh Winner, 25, a federal contractor, with removing classified material from a government facility and mailing it to a news outlet.
Source: NBC News [nbcnews.com]
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.
Source: Department of Justice [justice.gov]
While the document provides a rare window into the NSA’s understanding of the mechanics of Russian hacking, it does not show the underlying “raw” intelligence on which the analysis is based. A U.S. intelligence officer who declined to be identified cautioned against drawing too big a conclusion from the document because a single analysis is not necessarily definitive.
Source: The Intercept [theintercept.com]