WASHINGTON (CN) – The Justice Department announced Monday that it arrested a federal contractor from Georgia over charges that she sent classified information to a news outlet.
FBI agents showed up at 25-year-old Reality Leigh Winner’s home on Saturday after she allegedly printed “intelligence reporting, which contained classified national defense information from an intelligence community agency” and sent it to an unspecified news outlet, according to a Justice Department press release. Winner is a government contractor with Pluribus International Corporation, a defense and intelligence agency.
Winner allegedly took documents from the facility she worked at in Georgia on May 9 and sent them to an “online news outlet” days later, according to the criminal affidavit.
“Exceptional law enforcement efforts allowed us quickly to identify and arrest the defendant,” Deputy Attorney General Rod 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 FBI learned of the incident on June 1, when the agency that produced the document told the FBI that the news outlet had sent it the copy it was using as the basis of an upcoming story, according to the affidavit.
The document was marked Top Secret, and the agency that produced it was able to tell it was printed out because the pages “appeared to be folded and/or creased.” The unnamed agency performed an internal audit and pinpointed Winner as one of six people who had printed out the report, according to the affidavit.
The affidavit also reveals that the agency searched the computers of the six, which led them to finding that Winner had emailed the news outlet.
The affidavit adds that Winner admitted in a later interview with an FBI special agent that she had sent the documents to the media.
“Winner further acknowledged that she was aware of the contents of the intelligence reporting and that she knew the contents of the reporting could be used to the injury of the United States and to the advantage of a foreign nation,” the affidavit states.
Winner made her first appearance in federal court in Augusta, Georgia, on Monday, according to the Justice Department.
Pluribus International has contracted with 21 different federal agencies, including the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Office of Counterintelligence and several military commands, according to the company’s website.