The US Justice Department announced on Monday that Reality Leigh Winner “admitted intentionally identifying and printing the classified intelligence reporting at issue despite not having a ‘need to know.’” Winner also acknowledged that she knew the materials she had shared were classified, the DOJ said.
The Pluribus International Corporation employee stole classified information “on or about May 9,” according to the DOJ’s statement. The illegally shared material was described as national defense information originating from an intelligence agency. She mailed the information to an unspecified news outlet a few days later, the Justice Department added.
“Releasing classified material without authorization threatens our nation’s security and undermines public faith in government,” Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said.
The FBI ran the investigation by obtaining and executing a search warrant of Winner’s residence, according to the release. According to a legal affidavit, the special agent who deposed to the court is currently “assigned to investigate counterintelligence and espionage matters.”
“People who are trusted with classified information and pledge to protect it must be held accountable when they violate that obligation,” Rosenstein added.
The materials leaked by Winner reportedly pertain to US intelligence about alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, charges the Kremlin has vociferously denied.
US President Donald Trump has been outspoken about his desire to see “LEAKERS” identified and brought to justice. It remains to be seen whether Trump will be satisfied or dismayed that the leaker is a Winner.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 16, 2017