The Department of Justice released a statement Monday detailing the charges against a government contractor they say leaked confidential documents to the press. And it reveals how they caught her.
The statement says that the alleged leaker was arrested Saturday and appeared in federal court Monday. "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)," it read.
"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," the statement explained. "Approximately a few days later, Winner unlawfully transmitted by mail the intelligence reporting to an online news outlet."
Journalists noted that the government appeared to catch her after the news outlet asked for a comment about their story, but provided the original documents to the government. "The U.S. Government Agency examined the document shared by the News Outlet and determined the pages of the intelligence reporting appeared to be folded and/or creased, suggesting they had been printed and hand-carried out of a secured space," the complaint read.
Because of the crease in the paper, they knew to look for people who printed the document and physically carried it out of the "secured space." After finding six people who printed the document, they discovered one had emails to the news outlet.
Online sleuths immediately began posting public information about the alleged leaker.
It suspected that Winner leaked a document to The Intercept, which ran a story based on a leaked highly classified report detailing how U.S. intelligence agencies monitored hundreds of hacking attempts against local election officials before the 2016 election.
The top-secret National Security Agency document, which was provided anonymously to The Intercept and independently authenticated, analyzes intelligence very recently acquired by the agency about a months-long Russian intelligence cyber effort against elements of the U.S. election and voting infrastructure. The report, dated May 5, 2017, is the most detailed U.S. government account of Russian interference in the election that has yet come to light.
The Trump administration has been beset by constant leaks that have become great stumbling blocks to the president's agenda.