Alleged NSA leaker Reality Winner pleads not guilty to divulging classified Russia report
A U.S. intelligence contractor pleaded not guilty on Thursday to a charge of leaking a classified report on Russian election interference to a media outlet, CNN reported.
Reality Leigh Winner, 25, is accused of leaking a National Security Agency report to The Intercept, according to officials. The NSA document provided technical details on what it said were Russian attempts to hack election officials and a voting machine firm before the presidential election in November.
WATCH: NSA contractor named ‘Reality Winner’ charged with leaking documents on Russia
An attorney for Winner said she intends to plead not guilty, NBC News reported on Wednesday.
She is the first person charged with leaking classified information to the media under the administration of President Donald Trump.
Trump, who has repeatedly vowed to crack down on leakers, believes anyone found guilty of unlawfully disclosing classified information should be punished to the fullest extent of the law, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said at a press briefing.
First Amendment advocates have said they are concerned the Trump administration may use Winner‘s case to chill what they view as legitimate government whistleblowing. They were also critical of the Obama administration’s approach to leaks, including its pursuit of former contractor Edward Snowden.
The charges against Winner were announced less than an hour after The Intercept published a secret document from the NSA that provided technical details on what it said were Russian attempts to hack election officials and a voting machine firm before the presidential election in November.
While the charges do not name the publication, two U.S. officials with knowledge of the case confirmed that Winner was charged with leaking the NSA report to The Intercept.
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