The alleged leaker accused of feeding a classified report to an online news site has a colorful history on social media that lays bare her political leanings as an environmentalist who wanted to "resist" President Trump.
Reality Winner, a 25-year-old Air Force veteran, is a contractor with Pluribus International Corporation assigned to a federal facility in Georgia, where she allegedly leaked a classified intelligence report containing “Top Secret Level” information. The report, according to the Department of Justice, contained classified defense information from an intelligence community agency.
While the DOJ did not say which site published the information, the charges were announced just as The Intercept published details of a National Security Agency report on Russian hacking efforts during the 2016 presidential election.
According to the Justice Department, Winner admitted to printing a classified intelligence document despite not having a “need to know,” and with knowledge the report was classified. Winner further admitted removing the report from her office space and mailing it to the news outlet, according to the criminal complaint.
Why go through all the trouble and risk?
The Justice Department does not speak to motivation, but Winner’s social media pages indicate she was a passionate environmentalist who shared Bernie Sanders material online and held some anti-Trump views. She shared numerous articles and comments against the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines (which Trump has moved to revive) on her Facebook page, even posting a letter she sent to the office of Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga.
“Repeat after me: In the United States of America, in the year 2017, access to clean, fresh water is not a right, but a privilege based off of one’s socio-economic status,” Winner wrote in a Facebook posting about four months ago.
Winner also posted using the hashtag #F---ingWall, in an entry about Trump “silencing” the Environment Protection Agency.
Winner also posted in February, before Trump revived construction on the Dakota Access Pipeline: “You have got to be s---ting me right now. No one has called? The White House shut down their phone lines. There have been protests for months, at both the drilling site and outside the White House. I’m losing my mind. If you voted for this piece of s---, explain this. He’s lying. He’s blatantly lying and the second largest supply of freshwater in the country is now at risk. #NoDAPL #NeverMyPresident #Resist.”
And in one telling post before the general election, she wrote, "On a positive note, this Tuesday when we become the United States of the Russian Federation, Olympic lifting will be the national sport."
As for non-political interests, her social accounts also suggest she's a workout buff and donates to veterans' and children's charities.
Air Force officials confirmed that Winner served active duty from December of 2010 to last December. It was not immediately clear if she was ever deployed. Winner was a cryptologic language analyst, requiring fluency in at least one foreign language which was not divulged. Winner attained the rank of senior airmen, E4, and was last stationed at Ft. Mead in Maryland.
The Justice Department did not specify whether Winner is being charged in connection with the Intercept’s report, but the site noted the NSA report cited in its story was dated May 5 of this year -- the affidavit released by the DOJ supporting Winner’s arrest also said the report was dated “on or about” May 5.
“Exceptional law enforcement efforts allowed us to quickly identify and arrest the defendant,” Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said on Monday. “Releasing classified material without authorization threatens our nation’s security and undermines public faith in government.”
Rosenstein added: “People who are trusted with classified information and pledge to protect it must be held accountable when they violate that obligation.”
Winner has held a top secret clearance during her employment at Pluribus International Corporation. She has been employed at the facility since mid-February.
Late Monday night, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange tweeted his support for Winner.
“Alleged NSA whistle-blower Reality Leigh winner must be supported. She is a young woman accused of courage in trying to help us know,” Assange posted on Twitter.
On Tuesday, The Intercept released a statement saying they had no knowledge of the identity of the person who provided them with the classified documents.