Winner, 25, is set to appear in court Thursday afternoon in Augusta, Georgia, where she had worked at a federal facility through Pluribus International Corp. She was arrested Saturday on charges of violating the Espionage Act by “removing classified material from a government facility and mailing it to a news outlet,” a criminal complaint stated.
The document in question, which Winner leaked to The Intercept, describes a Russian cyberattack on a U.S. voting software supplier before last year’s election and states that Russian intelligence services gained access to “multiple U.S. state or local electoral boards.” However, it shows no evidence that the Russian cyberattacks directly altered any votes.
Before The Intercept published its story Monday, authorities arrested the former Air Force linguist. In talks with FBI agents at her home that day, Winner reportedly “admitted intentionally identifying and printing the classified intelligence reporting at issue despite not having a ‘need to know,’ and with knowledge that the intelligence report was classified,” according to the affidavit.
Authorities identified Winner as the suspected leaker after The Intercept contacted the NSA to verify the veracity of the document. According to the affidavit, the agency noticed that pages of the memo “appeared to be folded and/or creased, suggesting they had been printed out and hand-carried out of a secure place.” Of the six people the NSA had a record of printing the memo, Winner was the only one who had emailed The Intercept.