FBI: Contractor admitted leaking classified report to media

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Reality Leigh Winner (Via Facebook)

U.S. authorities arrested a federal contractor following the leak of a classified intelligence report that suggests that Russian hackers attacked an American voting software supplier ahead of the 2016 presidential election.

The U.S. Justice Department charged Reality Leigh Winner, a government contractor, with mailing a classified report containing "Top Secret level" information to a news organization. The report she is accused of leaking has the same release date as a classified National Security Agency report posted online by The Intercept.

Winner, 25, is the first person that Donald Trump's administration has charged under the Espionage Act. She is also the first person arrested in connection with the wider investigations into whether Russia interfered with the presidential election.

"Releasing classified material without authorization threatens our nation's security and undermines public faith in government," Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said in a statement. "People who are trusted with classified information and pledge to protect it must be held accountable when they violate that obligation."

Winner is a Georgia-based contractor for an unspecified federal agency. She has served in the U.S. Air Force and held a top-secret security clearance, according to an FBI agent's affidavit filed with a U.S. District Court. When FBI agents came to her home to execute a search warrant, she "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," Special Agent Justin Garrick wrote in the affidavit.

Winner's attorney told the AP that his client has no criminal history and that he had no knowledge of her apparent confession to the FBI.

Federal prosecutors aren't alleging a motive for the alleged leak, but Winner's social media pages show plenty of opposition to President Trump's policies. She posted several anti-Trump comments, including at least one with the hashtags #NeverMyPresident #Resist, to Facebook, Fox News reported. Her Facebook page now appears to be offline.

The U.S. Justice Department is investigating the alleged involvement of Russian agents, hackers, or officials in the U.S. election and if any members of the Trump campaign colluded with them. Deputy AG Rosenstein appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller III as special counsel to oversee the department's probe.

Panels in both the House and Senate are also looking into the issue.

Russia has repeatedly denied any involvement in the election.

President Trump has also said that his campaign did nothing wrong.

With AP, Fox News, and Fox 5 reports