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Federal contractor arrested and charged with leaking classified documents to The Intercept

06 June 2017

A top secret National Security Agency document shows that hackers from Russian military intelligence tried repeatedly to break into USA voting systems before last year's presidential election, The Intercept reported Monday. The government intelligence report suggests that the election-related hacking penetrated further into US voting systems than previously known.

According to a DOJ release, 25-year-old Reality Leigh Winner is being charged with removing classified material from a government facility and mailing it to a news outlet.

While the contents of the document, and the news organization it went to, were not specified in Winner's court paperwork, by a curious coincidence The Intercept published on Monday a leaked report, dated May 5, into Russian election hacking. Late last August, the report says that these hackers sent emails that seemed to be from Google to workers at an election software company in the US, the report said.

The Associated Press could not confirm the authenticity of the report.

Russian President Vladimir Putin denied during an interview aired Sunday that his government meddled in the us election, though he admitted last week that "patriotic" Russian individuals may have acted on their own.

According to the DOJ, Winner began working as a contractor at Pluribus International Corporation on February 13. ".The actors likely used data obtained from that operation to.launch a voter registration-themed spear-phishing campaign targeting United States local government organisations".

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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.

The report shows that, by trying to steal log-in credentials and using spear-fishing emails to plant malware, the hackers "obtained and maintained access to elements of multiple USA state or local electoral boards". US intelligence officials then asked The Intercept to redact certain sections.

The FBI said when they approached victor she admitted to printing out the document, removing it from her place of work and mailing it to The Intercept.

The NSA did not immediately reply to requests for comment on the report.

"She has no criminal history; it's not as if she's a threat to anyone, " he said. "The report, dated May 5, 2017, is the most detailed USA government account of Russian interference in the election that has yet to come to light", the website wrote. "She is a very good person". When questioned by the FBI "Winner admitted intentionally identifying and printing the classified intelligence reporting at issue despite not having a "need to know", the complaint alleges". Federal authorities said she printed out a copy of the report and mailed it to The Intercept. A further audit of the six individuals' desk computers revealed that victor had email contact with the news outlet.

Victor remains in jail pending a detention hearing later this week, said the lawyer, adding that he expects the government will seek to keep her behind bars pending trial.