Former National Security Agency contractor Reality Winner told an FBI agent she was able to leak a classified intelligence report by sticking it in her pantyhose and walking out the door of the secure facility where she worked in Augusta, Georgia.
The transcript of a conversation between her and two FBI agents, first reported by Politico, was filed by prosecutors this week. She has been in jail since June, but may be released on bond pending a judge’s decision.
Winner, who started her career as an Air Force linguist and held a Top Secret security clearance, reportedly felt that the American public needed to know about the contents of the classified report, which suggested Russian hackers had targeted software used in U.S. voting machines as part of their attempt to interfere with the 2016 U.S. Presidential election.
Winner appears to have strong political views, telling FBI agents in her interview that she objected to the playing of Fox News in her workplace. “I’ve filed formal complaints about them having Fox News on, you know?” she said “For God’s sake, put Al Jazeera on, or a slideshow of people’s pets.”
After lying to the FBI agents multiple times during their discussion, Winner admits she sent the classified intelligence report to what is now known to be the Intercept, but only after the agents revealed that they had evidence it was her.
“I don’t understand why this isn’t a thing,” she said, referring to the report on Russian hackers. “It made me very mad. I guess I didn’t care about myself at that point. Yeah, I screwed up royally.”
Winner says she understood that sources and methods would be compromised by releasing the report, if they “haven’t been already”.
“Why do I have this job if I’m just going to sit back and be helpless.” She said.
Special Agent Justin Garrick, who filed an affidavit in support of arrest for Winner, wrote that she: “further acknowledged that she was aware of the contents of the intelligence reporting and that she knew the contents of the reporting could be used to the injury of the United States and to the advantage of a foreign nation.”
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