USA intelligence contractor heads to court on leak charges

09 June, 2017, 09:26 | Author: Clay Erickson
  • Contractor held in leak aired views online

(AP Photo/Johnny Clark). In this June 6, 2017 image made from video, Billie Winner-Davis, left, the mother of Reality Leigh Winner, and her stepfather Gary Davis, speak to media about their daughter in east Augusta, Ga. "She was not expecting any of this".

Wearing an orange jumpsuit and leg shackles, victor pleaded not guilty in USA district court to charges that she illegally retained and transmitted national defense information.

If convicted, victor could face up to 10 years in prison.

The indictment alleges that victor, a former Air Force linguist, leaked the confidential information in May 2017 while employed at private contractor Pluribus International.

The Affidavit says a visible crease mark on the document passed to a website called "The Intercept" tipped them off that the file was printed from a secure server. The prosecutor said victor also had photos of the leaked document on her phone. I didn't know what company she worked for. "They recorded jailhouse. phone calls to her mother where she sort of coached her on how to play sympathy in the media".

Prosecutors also said while victor was serving in the Air Force she put a removable thumb drive into a top-secret computer.

The Intercept's report, which was based on a classified National Security Agency document, showed no evidence that the cyberattacks directly altered any votes. The document, according to the indictment, was clearly marked as "top secret". But the Justice Department didn't announce her arrest until Monday - the same day The Intercept published a report on the document. The NSA report, dated May 5, provides details of a 2016 Russian cyberattack on a U.S. voting software supplier, though there is no evidence the hack affected any votes.

During the hearing, prosecutor Jennifer Solari said victor wrote in a notebook that she wanted to "burn the White House down" and move to Nepal or Kurdistan. She was terrified of the situation and she did tell me also that she was afraid she was going to disappear.

"Whether that's a jest or not, it still concerns me", Epps said.

Victor served in the Air Force from December 2010 to 2016.

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According to the indictment, victor obtained top secret clearance during her six years in the Air Force, which she completed in December.

Prosecutors warned U.S. Magistrate Judge Brian Epps that victor might have more stolen secrets. "But we do know she's very intelligent".

"This is a 25-year-old girl who served her country with admiration and distinction", Davis said.

Winner's defense attorney, Titus Thomas Nichols, would not confirm whether she was being charged with leaking the NSA report cited by The Intercept.

A judge in Augusta denied Reality Winner bail Thursday in federal court. The judge will determine whether to release her on bond.

Winner's lawyer would not comment on his client and her connection to the leaks.

Julian Assange - founder of WikiLeaks - released a statement calling for public support for victor, saying she is a young woman "accused of courage in trying to help us know". "She doesn't deserve that", Winner's mother told WSB-TV. "She met with a state rep and was going to have follow-up meetings with his office".

"I think she's trying to be fearless for me".

A Georgia woman charged with leaking US government secrets to a reporter shared sometimes scathing opinions on President Donald Trump before her arrest.

Victor was likely caught due to some apparent oversights in The Intercept's source verification process.

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