Contractor charged with leaking classified NSA info on Russian hacking

A top secret National Security Agency document shows Russian military intelligence tried to hack into USA voter registration systems before last year's election, an online news service reports. Victor further admitted removing the classified intelligence reporting from her office space, retaining it, and mailing it from Augusta, Georgia, to the news outlet, which she knew was not authorized to receive or possess the documents.

The U.S. Department of Justice on Monday charged a federal contractor with sending classified material to a news organization that sources identified to Reuters as The Intercept, marking one of the first concrete efforts by the Trump administration to crack down on leaks to the media.

The NSA did not conclude whether the hackers had any effect on the outcome, The Intercept said.

The document said Russian military intelligence "executed cyber espionage operations against a named USA company in August 2016 evidently to obtain information on elections-related software and hardware solutions, according to information that became available in April 2017". A second official confirmed The Intercept document was authentic and did not dispute that the charges against victor were directly tied to it.

On June 3, victor was questioned by the Federal Bureau of Investigation at her home in Augusta, Georgia, in which she allegedly admitted "intentionally identifying and printing the classified intelligence reporting at issue, " according to the affidavit, which said she also allegedly admitted "removing the classified intelligence reporting from her office space, retaining it, and mailing it from Augusta, Georgia, to the news outlet, which she knew was not authorised to receive or possess the documents".

The seven-page complaint against victor, filed in Georgia's Augusta Richmond County earlier today, alleges that victor, a 25-year-old contractor with the security system supplier Pluribus International Corporation, printed out and mailed the classified intelligence report to The Intercept.

"The actors likely used data obtained from that operation to ... launch a voter registration-themed spear-phishing campaign targeting USA local government organizations".

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The U.S. voting software company was not directly identified in the report, but is believed to be Florida-based VR Systems, which provides software for eight states: New York, California, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, North Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia. GRU "may have breached at least some elements of the voting system", particularly "elements of multiple US state or local electoral boards". For example, former NSA contractor Edward Snowden in 2013 disclosed secret documents to journalists, including The Intercept's Greenwald, that revealed broad US surveillance programs.

The DOJ release says that victor "admitted intentionally identifying and printing the classified intelligence reporting at issue despite not having a "need to know", and with knowledge that the intelligence reporting was classified".

Victor was working as a contractor for Pluribus International, and is accused of having given the document in question to The Intercept.

The DOJ's statement also said victor, who is charged with "removing classified material from a government facility and mailing it to a news outlet", admitted to leaking the document. Winner's court-appointed attorney, Titus Nichols, said a detention hearing will take place on Thursday in Augusta, where the judge will determine whether to release her on bond.

"She has no criminal history; it's not as if she's a threat to anyone, " he said.

Garrick's affidavit said he interviewed victor at her home Saturday and she "admitted intentionally identifying and printing the classified intelligence reporting at issue" and mailing it to the news outlet. The U.S. Government Agency determined that six individuals printed this reporting. Authorities said that they also determined that victor had e-mail contact with the news outlet.

"I think she's trying to be courageous for me", Billie Winner said.

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