Reality Winner, a 25-year-old NSA contractor, has pled “not guilty” to leaking classified information to an online news outlet widely believed to be the Intercept. Winner was previously indicted by a federal grand jury for “willful retention and transmission of national defense information.” She was arrested at her home in Augusta, Georgia on Saturday, and, two days later, federal prosecutors filed a criminal complaint against her.
According to an FBI affidavit, Winner admitted to investigators that she intentionally printed classified intelligence information from her office in Augusta and mailed it to the news outlet. The information in question alleged that Russian government hackers had targeted 122 election officials in the U.S. days before the 2016 presidential election. On Monday, the Intercept published a similar story, alongside an NSA document dated May 5. The story claimed there was no evidence that hackers compromised any voting machines or affected the election outcomes. In a statement, the Intercept also maintained that the classified information was given to them anonymously.
At a hearing in Augusta on Thursday, Winner was denied bail by a judge, with prosecutors suggesting she could have retrieved additional top-secret information. Authorities are currently searching four cellphones, two laptops, a tablet, and a set of spiral-bound notebooks found in Winner’s home. If convicted, Winner could face up to 10 years in prison and be fined up to $250,000.